Ham and split pea soup

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In case you missed the numerous other times I have mentioned it on this blog….. I LOVE SOUP. It is probably one of the only things that makes winter even barely tolerable to me. I am NOT made for the cold. Alabama is about as mild a winter as you will get in North America, and yet every time the temperature dips below 4o degrees, I find myself longing to be back to the equator. Anyway… soup! AAhhhhh….. soup is my consolation in all of this. I could have soup every day of the week, but my sweet husband would be very, very unimpressed. Over our 8 years of marriage, many a compromise have been made. One of them is in regard to soup. Soup is only acceptable at our house as a main meal if it has a meat of some sort thrown in, and most importantly, is a thick and chunky soup (sorry, chicken noodle soup, you have been eliminated).

Thankfully, this is one soup that meets everyone’s approval at my house. It can be made without the ham bone, but if you happen to have a bone chilling in the fridge from the Thanksgiving, Easter or Christmas meal, this is the perfect use for it. I made this a couple weeks ago from the ham left over from Thanksgiving, and left overs never tasted so yummy. It was a good change from the overindulgent feast. You could also buy a ham hock and throw it in. The bone adds depth to the flavor of the soup. Serve with some warm toasted bread, and it is sheer bliss. You could also serve this with some steamed rice, or a side salad. Whatever you do… make it soon. You will be glad you did.

Recipe yields about 8 cups.
Ingredients:
1 pound green split peas
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
Ham bone (optional, but adds great flavor)
2 cups diced ham
7 cups broth (I used chicken) *** you could also use 7 cups water and crumbled bouillon cubes***
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (more or less to your preference)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt to taste (You may not need any, depending on the sodium content in your ham and broth)

2 Tablespoon fresh parsley to garnish

Instructions:
1.Place the peas on a rimmed tray or baking sheet, and sort through, discarding any shriveled or broken peas, debris or stones. Rinse with cold water.

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2. In a stock pot, put in the split peas and enough water to cover the peas, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. In the same pot, heat the oil. Add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until veggies start to soften. Add garlic, and cook for a minute. Add the peas, ham, broth, black and red pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Check for salt and add more if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about an hour. After an hour, check if the peas are done. They should be soft. If not, simmer for another 15 minutes.

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4. Once the soup is done, remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove the ham bone, and shred off any left over meat and return to pot. Discard bone. Add in the fresh parsley (it really brightens up the flavor) and enjoy!

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Devotion For The Day:

1st Peter 5:5-8

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. Humble yourselves, therefore under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift your up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Be self controlled and alert. The enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.

Roasted Salsa Verde

DSC_0039My family loves salsa, and we keep tons of it in the pantry at all times. I usually go for the store bought jars for onvenience, but sometimes I just want the real deal. I was having one of those days recently, when I was craving a homemade salsa. My plan was to make chicken enchiladas, and my salsa of choice when it comes to enchiladas is almost always salsa verde which simply means green salsa. I had almost everything on hand, except for tomatillos and jalapenos, so a quick trip to the store later, I was armed and ready to go.

If you have never tried salsa verde before, you are totally missing out. It is such a great breakaway from the usual red salsa, and goes great with chicken. Of course you could just dip your tortilla chips too 🙂 I won’t judge. Tomatillos look a lot like green tomatoes once you take the peel off, but they are actually not from the same family. They are pretty easy to find now at almost every grocery store in the US, even Walmart carries them now.  The best way to select the ones with the best flavor is to look for those that have smooth, firm skin(underneath the peel), and to pick smaller ones. The big ones are more bland in flavor. You could boil them, but I find that I prefer roasting them for depth of flavor. To prepare them for roasting, just take the peel off, and wash them. The peel makes the tomatillos feel waxy, but a good wash will remedy this.

DSC_0020My family loves spicy food, but the 3 jalapeno turned out to be just a little too spicy for one of my kids (my two year old handled it just fine, but the older one ended up mixing some sour cream in with her salsa to tone it down). That being said, please adjust the jalapeno to suit your taste. I took the seeds and ribs off two of the jalapenos, and left the seeds in one. I might just take all the seeds out next time. Removing the seeds and the ribs of the peppers makes them less spicy. You could even omit the peppers all together for a mild but still flavorful sauce.

The recipe yielded about 3  cups of salsa(which is a lot!), which we ate with chips and then used for chicken enchiladas on day 2. The sauce should keep well in the fridge for a few days, and can also be canned for longer storage. You can easily half this recipe.

Ingredients:
2 pounds tomatillos, cleaned and halved
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
3 jalapenos, quartered (and seeded, if you prefer)
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Directions:

1. Adjust your rack in the oven 3/4 way to the top, and turn your oven on broil. Arrange your tomatillos, onion, jalapeno and garlic on a cookie sheet.

DSC_00242. Put the in the oven and broil for about 8 minutes, until the vegetables start to get a little charred, but not burned. Pull the pan out and set aside to cool down until it is cool enough to handle.

DSC_00253. Peel the garlic and put in a blender with the other vegetables. Add in the lime juice, cilantro, cumin and salt. Pulse the blender until you achieve your desired consistency. I like a slightly chunky salsa.

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Enjoy!

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Devotion For The Day:

For the last week, I have been studying the book of Nehemiah. I would highly recommend reading it. It’s not terribly long (13 chapters), but has such an incredible story. The jist of the story is that the Israelites having rebelled against God, in judgement were taken captive by the Babylonians, and their glorious city of Jerusalem was reduced to ruins. After many decades had passed, many of the exiles had returned to Jerusalem, but it was still in ruins, and they were very vulnerable. At this time, Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, and was devastated when he heard of the state of the city. After much prayer, he felt compelled to lead the efforts to rebuild the city. He prayed every step of the way, and his godly leadership led the people of Israel to rebuild the city in record time, as well as to recommit themselves to God.

The verses that I’m sharing today are from Nehemiah 9. At this point, the city is rebuilt, and Nehemiah is their new governor. He leads the people into a time of fasting and praying as they confess their past sin and rebellion, and also recommit themselves to following God’s laws that they had turned away from. As a people, in chapter 9 they are reflecting on their past, and God’s faithfulness and provision for them, but also their unfaithfulness and rebellion to Him. I totally loved verse 19. They paint such a perfect picture of who God is, even in the face of who we are… fallen and unfaithful. His love and compassion never fails.

Nehemiah 9:19-21. “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. For forty years you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet become swollen”.