Split pea soup has always been one of my favorites and one that does not get made too often, at least in my house anyway. traditionally it was always made with a ham bone to get the flavor from, which we never really have around this house very much. Secondly, Michelle has never been a big fan of pea soup, so I had stayed away from trying to make it. Recently she said I should give it a try since she knows how much I like it and she might feel differently about it now. Since I still did not have a ham bone to make it with, I went hunting for alternatives. I saw a lot of recipe that simply used bacon or ham steak as a replacement, but I wanted a bit more flavor than that. I immediately thought of ham hocks, but my local store did not have any. However, they did have some smoked pork necks and this seemed like it would work well enough so I gave it a try.
Split Pea Soup
2 smoked ham hocks or pork necks, each about 3/4 pound
1 1/2 cups green split peas, rinsed and picked over
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 cups water or chicken stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the ham hocks or pork necks and simmer for 1 minute. Drain and set aside. Pick over the split peas and discard any misshapen peas and stones. Rinse the peas and drain.
Using a blender and working in batches, puree the soup on high-speed until smooth, about 2 minutes for each batch. Return the puree to a clean soup pot. Alternatively, process the soup with an immersible blender in the pot. Thin the soup with more stock, if needed. Place the soup over medium heat and reheat to serving temperature. Season with salt and pepper.
While the soup is heating, remove the meat from the ham hocks and discard the skin and bones. Cut the meat into small pieces and add to the soup. Stir to heat through.
To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve.