What makes this soup taste so good is the combination of lots of garlic and oregano. When it is simmering away on the stove top the smell is amazing. It wafts through the air and my nostrils are saying, "what's dat cookin' in dat pot?"
When you cook a New England boiled ham dinner, cook the cabbage separately. Then later you use the broth as a base for the soup. I do this for my Brown Lentil Soup with Ham as well.
However if you are using a left over baked ham you will need to create the broth from scratch. I purchase a shank ham on sale for either a New England boiled dinner or for a baked ham for two reasons: one is that the ham tends to come out more tender and two because the bone helps to make a tastier soup.
Depending on the size of the ham that is left, slice some of the meat for sandwiches, cut some off to make a frittata or to make ham and pickle salad for sandwiches.
- left-over ham - pulled or cut into chunks
- left over stock from the ham or water
- 1 bag green split peas
- 1 large sweet onion - coarsely chopped
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 3 tbsp. chopped garlic - or more to taste
- 2 1/2 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. black pepper - or to taste
- 1 tbsp. granulated garlic to taste (can be added during the cooking process)
- salt to taste (don't add the beginning - taste as you go along)
- If you are starting with a baked ham you will need to cut away the outer rind that has perhaps been basted with some kind of glaze. Cut out as much fat as possible.
- Next, place the ham (bone in) in an 8 quart pot or suitable sized pot and cover with water to begin the cooking process.
- In a pot suitable to fit the ham, either cover with water or place the entire ham in the strained broth. Cook for about 30 minutes if you are using strained broth or if you are starting with water, cook for about an hour covered.
- Next, add in the onion, garlic and spices and split peas. Cook covered for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Remove the cover, taste for additional garlic or seasoning. Allow the soup to evaporate and concentrate the flavors. All in all the soup needs to cook around 3 hours.
- Before serving, remove the bay leaves and bones and break up the ham. Ladle into serving bowls.
I like to cool the soup down, refrigerate and serve it the next day. I find that the flavor develops more if you allow it to rest in the refrigerator. Before reheating the soup I remove the bones, the bay leaves and shred the ham. This is where a pair of hands is very useful! Taste for final seasonings if necessary and reheat over a low heat until the soup is hot.
Serve with a nice slice of crusty bread, rye bread or top with croutons. This is a healthy filling meal. Also, any left over soup can be placed in a container and refrigerated or put in the freezer for reheating at a later date. Although it freezes well, I would try and use the frozen soup within 3 months.