For some reason I can't entirely explain, we had a spare toupie ham siting in our fridge's freezer. Because it's such an odd shape it takes up more room than it deserves, so I decided to cook it the other day as a treat for my family. They've been smiling their way through more than their fair share of frozen food and Kraft dinner. After a marathon dish washing session I was feeling energetic, so I got to work. I learned from my mother in law that the best way to cook a ham (of any size) is to boil it in a pot of water with a teaspoon of sugar. After I've boiled my ham for at least an hour and a half I put it in a roasting pan with some of the water covering the bottom of the dish and finish it in a 350F oven for about 30 minutes. This produces a juicy, tender ham that's full of flavour. It also helps mellow out the natural saltiness of the pre-cooked hams you can buy at the store. I also save the water that I cooked my ham in to use as a sort of stock!
So, there I was with a reasonable quantity of leftover ham. I am not one of those who enjoys eating the same food for two days in a row. I am also not one of those who can be trusted to remember I have perfectly good food sitting in my fridge before it has spoiled. Quite the dilemma. I wasn't in the mood for a ham casserole (pregnancy belly and brain screamed no!) so I got to planning. We hadn't had my homemade pea soup since our oldest was a baby, and I suddenly had a hankering for it, so it was settled. I needed to have a meal for a family who'd just had a baby and I wanted to have some for my own freezer, so when I was doing my regular grocery shopping yesterday evening I added the few essential ingredients to my list! This is based on my Mom's recipe but I perhaps quintupled it. Feel free to reduce it to a more human amount. Or don't.
Leftover ham (cut into small cubes)
Ham water (sounds funny, but it's what's going to amp up the ham taste even if you don't have a lot of ham in the actual soup)
Celery (an entire bunch, diced)
8 medium carrots (diced)
2-3 onions (diced. I didn't actually put any in mine as I hate them)
3 450g bags of split green peas (rinsed)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Pepper to taste
You will notice that there's no salt in the recipe, but that's because the ham itself and ham water are salty enough! Prepare all the ingredients as noted and dump them in a large pot. The biggest you have considering how big the recipe is. Once everything is in there, turn it up to medium high and keep an eye on it. Once it's boiling steadily, turn the heat down to low and simmer until the carrots, celery and onion are very soft and the peas have turned into mush. Make sure to stir every so often as the peas will stick to the bottom. That's it! Easy recipe right? I made enough to fill 3 medium size containers plus I have enough for supper tonight. I can't wait to have a big bowl with the family (I may have already had a taste...).