The holiday season, cool weather and warm memories are all the excuses I needed to make a big pot of my favorite Canadian style split yellow pea soup for dinner last night. We call it Habitant where I come from and while my Mom would whip up a batch every once in a while, most often it came out of a magic can like this one.
Habitant is a traditional French Canadian pea soup, the origins of which can be traced back over 400 years to French explorer Samuel de Champlain and the cargo he carried as he sailed the ocean blue in his search for "New France". Check out this recent article for more information.
A fabulous use of the bone from a holiday ham, this verison of Habitant also includes bacon along with onions, carrots, celery and the very traditional yellow split peas instead of the green version. I dare not ever use the green because Big Guy has an aversion to it. Come to think of it, the only way I can get him to touch a spoon of this my very favorite soup to his lips is to call it "Split Bean" instead of pea, but whatever works, right?
Habitant Pea Soup (from JBug's Kitchen Antics adapted from Cooking Light)
6 slices bacon, diced
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cups yellow split peas
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)
12 ounce smoked ham hock or leftover ham bone
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium russet potato, peeled, cooked and well mashed
In a large Dutch oven over medium low heat, cook bacon until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon from pot and set aside. Add onions, carrots and celery to pot and cook until onion is soft. Add broth, water, split peas, bay leaves, dried thyme and ham hock. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer 1-1/2 hours or until peas are very tender, skimming surface as necessary.
Remove ham hock. Stir in parsley, chopped fresh thyme, salt, pepper and cooked mashed potato. Return cooked bacon to pot. Serve with extra black pepper.