Adventures in Eating: Split Pea with Ham or Turkey

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, visions of plush arm­chairs, crackling fires and steam­ing bowls of homemade soup keep “dancing in my head”. Every year, just before the holiday season be­gins, I make a silent vow: I will not become a stressed-out maniac. I will not demand perfection when baking. I will not accept every holiday invitation. And I certainly will not wait until the last minute to do my Christmas shopping. So much for the best laid plans of mice and urban women.

It seems no matter how much I want to change, I usually end up baking that perfect batch of “they look too good to eat” cookies. And rushing from party to party without so much as even a peck on the cheek under the mistletoe. And (no matter how hard I try) waiting until Santa and his reindeer are “up on the housetop” before I start wrapping presents!

As you can imagine, the day af­ter Christmas I sigh from relief that it is all over. Call me Scrooge. Or Grinch. I know I shouldn’t feel this way and, hopefully, one year it will miraculously change. For now, January beckons me with outstreched arms and I happily em­brace this month with all its quiet simpleness.

I hope you too can take a rest after the holiday season. Put your feet up, treat yourself to a wonderful glass of wine, and simmer a pot of this easy, savory split pea soup. (A great use for any left over ham or turkey!)

Split Pea with Ham or Turkey

2 cups split peas

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup carrots, grated

1 cup onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

1 cup milk

1 1/2 cups minced ham or turkey

Parmesan cheese (freshly grated!)

Wash the split peas and soak them for one hour in warm water. Drain the water from the peas. Bring 2 1/2 quarts of water to a boil in a large kettle or stockpot. Add split peas. Simmer over low heat for two hours, stirring occa­sionally. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and cook the carrots, on­ion, and celery for ten minutes over low heat. Add vegetables to soup and continue to simmer 15 to 30 minutes longer. Purée the soup (optional, it just makes the soup creamier) and return soup to pot along with ham (or turkey) and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat gently. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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