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Split Pea & Ham Soup in a slow cooker/crock pot

Veggie-Loaded Split Pea & Ham Soup

Split pea and ham soup

Intro

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This slow-cooker split pea soup is a variation of one I’ve been making for decades. In my traditional version, I went heavier on animal protein by using both cubed ham and smoked ham hock. In this version, I’ve scaled back the fat in particular by removing the hock. If you’re on a higher fat diet or want more collagen in your diet though, feel free to nestle one on top of the stew when you start slow cooking it.

This slow-cooker split pea soup is a variation of one I’ve been making for decades. In my traditional version, I went heavier on animal protein by using both cubed ham and smoked ham hock. In this version, I’ve scaled back the fat in particular by removing the hock. If you’re on a higher fat diet or want more collagen in your diet though, feel free to nestle one on top of the stew when you start slow cooking it.

Because plants are so fantastic at fighting diseases, I’ve also updated the traditional version by doubling the amount of veggies from the Allium and Umbellifer families. Alliums are the family belonging to garlic, onion, shallot and leek. They are sulfuric and the freshest ones make you cry when you cut them. 🙂 Umbellifers are the carrots, celery, fennel, parsley, and dill family – anything with frilly green tops. 🙂 Celeriac is also a member of this family, though it is a root vegetable far less known than its stalk counterpart.

Sourcing

Dinner In Provence is focused on helping people find more sustainable food choices, so I’ve found it helpful to include where I get my ingredients. These are companies and ingredients I’ve researched, so you don’t have to.

Split Peas – I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Green Split Peas. Bob’s Red Mill is widely available and carries a huge variety of grains and legume-based products. Highly recommend their organic line.

Ham – Pasture-raised pork is an absolute must in this dish. Luckily, it’s becoming broadly available. Pasture-raised animals are raised in accordance with the laws of mother nature, and allow the animals to be in symbiosis with the land they live on. The animals are healthier and the food they produce is sustainable. In contrast, most pork in the US is currently raised industrially – that is, on factory “farms” that aren’t farms at all, rather huge steel barns with concrete floors and crates so confining, animals can’t even move. For your pastured options, of course local pork is always going to be best but I’ve found Niman Ranch and Beeler’s Pure Pork to be excellent pork brands and pretty broadly available. For this recipe, I used a Niman Ranch ham steak from Market of Choice.

Veggies – We had celeriac, orange and yellow carrots, shallots, onions and garlic from our organic Winter CSA through Stoneboat Farms (a local farm here in the Portland area).

Chicken Broth – I used Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Bone Broth. When I have it on hand though, I like to use homemade broth.

Chef’s Tricks

A few notes to help you get this recipe perfect the first time, while saving time!

  • There is a LOT of chopping, given all the vegetables in this soup. Since this is all going into the soup pot, feel free to utilize the Chop function on your food processor, if you like. You can combine the smaller items in one go, like garlic and shallot.
  • I find it helpful to simply dump each veggie into the crock pot once it’s been chopped, rather than an intermediate bowl or board. This clears the cutting board for the next veggie.
  • I highly recommend rinsing your split peas with a fine mesh sieve before cooking. This removes any dust and debris and also gives you a chance to look for any non-pea items (occasionally you’ll find some chaff or even a small stone, though with Bob’s Red Mill I’ve found this to be almost never)
  • Save your salting for the end. Sodium loses its salty flavor over long cooking times, but the sodium content is still in there. If you wait until the end of cooking (or even in the bowl), you’ll get the most bang for your buck in terms of sodium content to perceived salty flavor.
Split Pea & Ham Soup
Split Pea & Ham Soup, shown here without the parmigiano

Macronutrient Information

I manually calculated the calories and macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat) for this recipe using the specific brands of ingredients listed above, and an app called My Net Diary. This app has over 9M users and contains a food database with more than 940,000 food items, 680K of which have been professionally verified (the rest have been contributed by other users). I LOVE this app because it allows you to create combined nutrition info for your own recipes.

Although I’ve found this method to be far more accurate than using an automated Nutrition WordPress plugin, there is still the standard disclaimer that your mileage may (can and will) vary. This is for the following reasons:

  • The brands of items you get may be different, and with animal products in particular, protein and fat content and vary wildly.
  • Your portion sizes may be different than mine. You may decide you need 1.5 of these servings to fill you up
  • Human bodies are not the same as machines or engines, and food is far more than just fuel. Regardless what we swallow, what we digest and absorb is going to vary wildly from person to person and even the same person, day to day. Things like sleep, stress, hydration, heat/cold, exercise, and gut biome all play a huge role in nutrient absorption and bio-availability.

For all these reasons, I highly suggest you use nutrition numbers as a general starting guide, and pay attention to how food makes you feel when you are chewing and swallowing it. In particular, do a self-check about 2/3 of the way through your plate to see if you are simply satiated and full. This will help you become an intuitively healthy eater and help reset your stomach’s satiety signals to the brain.

Food As Medicine

This is an important component to each of our Recipe posts because food is SO much more than simple fuel. It is not just about calories in and calories out. It’s far more than even macronutrients, although those are certainly crucial to our health. Food has thousands of chemicals, hormones, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that our body also uses and needs.

As for this Split Pea Soup, I mentioned above that it is loaded to the max with Alliums and Umbellifers. What do these vegetable families do for your body’s health?

Alliums – My #1 recommendation for eating more veggies, this family of vegetables contains a potent mixture of sulfur and quercitin, along with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that make them health & longevity superstars. They contain flavonoids that stimulate the production of glutathione, which is the liver’s most potent antioxidant. Glutathione enhances elimination of toxins and carcinogens, putting the Allium family of vegetables at the top of the list for foods that can help prevent cancer. But that’s not all. here are some other neat tricks up the Allium family’s sleeve:

  • Inhibits the growth of cancer cells (literally, garlic and onion put in a petri dish with breast cancer and colon cancer cells, killed the cancer cells)
  • Acts as a natural antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral
  • Lowers total cholesterol (but raises HDL—”good”—cholesterol)
  • Lessens the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries))
  • Reduce total cholesterol levels
  • Increase blood-clot dissolving activity
  • Help prevent colds
  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Reduce the risks of diabetes by lessening insulin resistance
  • Supports hormones by stimulating/assissting detoxification of the body, helping eliminate old or excess hormones and toxins

What about the umbellifers, then? Well, while this plant family hasn’t shown the same anti-cancer properties as Alliums and Brassicas (the top two anti-cancer food families on the planet), they are still ultra healthy. They contain large amounts of beta-carotene and more flavanoids. They support our neurological system including our vision. Carrots in particular (any color) help cleanse the liver. We love celeriac over celery for its additional mineral content and fiber – but really, either are fine in this recipe!

Split Peas – these little guys certainly have their fair share of minerals, but I recommend them primarily for their fiber. Fiber is an amazing and altogether underrated nutrient for our bodies. Fiber feeds our gut microbiome, increasing absorption of all other nutrients, producing vitamins, and cleaning excess hormones and toxins from our gut. Fiber also helps prevent heart disease, atherelosclerosis, and diabetes by lowering insulin resistance and carrying bad cholesterol out of the body. Almost everyone who is on a high protein/high fat, and low or no carb diet, isn’t getting enough fiber. (Or any!) We should be eating high-fiber foods every chance we get.

Pastured Pork – pastured animals are naturally higher in Omega 3 fatty acids than their factory farmed counterparts. Additionally, sustainable and chemical-free meat is the best source for essential amino acids. These amino acids are required for every type of repair, building, turnover, and hormone transport in your body. Meat also has vitamins and minerals, particularly Vitamin B6/B12, and Iron.

Split Pea & Ham Soup

Substitutions

This particular recipe is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free (I didn’t even try!) You can easily make it vegan by swapping out the chicken broth for veggie broth, and omitting the ham. If you want to increase the smoky flavor, you can double the liquid smoke, and/or add 1T smoked paprika to the dish to amp up the umami that will be missing from the meat.

If you have severe leaky gut or IBS, I recommend you omit the garlic (for now! Not for life!) and possibly start with a half-serving of this soup due to its potent fiber content. Eating a high-fiber diet, particularly if it is sudden or in combination with chronic dehydration, commonly leads to gut flare-ups and bloating.

As mentioned, feel free to sub out celeriac for 3 stalks of organic celery.

Storage & Freezing

I’ve structured this recipe for 6 servings. When the soup is done, I immediately portion it out into identical meal prep bowls (they are these cute little ceramic bowls with plastic lids & a steam vent – perfect for on-the-go and microwaving. I got them from Costco).

Because there is no dairy in this soup, is freezes exceptionally well. (It also seems to taste ever *better* after being refrigerated or frozen.)

Keep in the fridge up to a week, in the freezer up to 3 months.

Veggie-Loaded Split Pea & Ham Soup

Split Pea & Ham Soup in a slow cooker/crock pot

Ingredients

1 large organic yellow onion
1 medium organic red onion
6 cloves organic garlic
1 medium organic shallot
1/2 large organic leek (or 1 small leek)
3 medium to large organic carrots
1/2 medium organic celeriac, or 2 stalks organic celery
2 cups Bobs Red Mill organic green split peas
4 cups organic chicken bone broth (or veggie broth)
3 cups water
1 tsp liquid smoke
12 oz pastured pork ham steak
1 bay leaf
2 tsp dried french thyme, plus 1-2 fresh sprigs if desired
1 tsp dried tarragon

Instructions

1
Prepare the alliums: Peel and chop (or pulse in food processor) the yellow onion, red onion, shallot, and garlic. Cut the dark green portion off the leek, then cut the white/light green portion in half and wash outer rings. Chop into thin half-moons. Place all in crock pot.
2
Prepare the umbellifers: Chop the carrot to desired level of dice (I use medium dice). Chop the celeriac or celery into small dice. Place in crock pot.
3
Prepare the proteins: Rinse the split peas well and place in crock pot. Dice ham steak into medium cubes and place in crock pot. Add ham hock on top, if using.
4
Add chicken broth, water, liquid smoke, bay leaf, thyme, and tarragon. Stir well to combine.
5
Cook on high 4-5 hours, or on low 6-8 hours. Turn off heat when the soup looks done (no longer brothy and peas look broken down/integrated).
6
Stir briskly to break up peas, taste and adjust seasoning of salt and pepper. Split into equal portions. (If using ham hock, remove and salvage meat from the bone on large cutting board, then return meat to pot).
7
To serve: Place in bowl and garnish with torn bread croutons, more herbs, cayenne, and/or freshly shaved parmigiano.

Nutrition Per Serving

Calories 370
Protein 36g
Carbs 52g
Fiber 20g
Fat 2g
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Dinner In Provence
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