Not Your Grandmother’s Split Pea & Ham Soup

Today, I made a split pea and ham soup to serve 80 men on the street. One of the guys told me that it is so good that the recipe is “internet ready.” That’s the first time I have heard that expression. They used to just tell me that the soup was “bumpin” when it was especially good; a much more graphic descriptor to be sure. In twenty years, even homeless people have become more technologically savvy. So here goes. I will attempt to publish the recipe as well as I can reconstruct it.

1 – 22 quart stainless steel stock pot with a glass lid
1 – much larger aluminum stockpot with no lid
1 – food processor with chopping blade
1 – long handled, heavy duty, industrial kitchen, stainless steel spoon
1 – expendable  dish rag

1/2 pound dried navy beans
1/2 pound dried pinto beans
1 pound pearled barley
1/2 pound dried kidney beans
3-1/2 pounds green split peas
1 pound yellow split peas
3 ham bones with a fair amount of meat on them
2 yellow onions
raw broccoli, cauliflower and carrots from 1-1/2 party trays
5 cloves garlic
4 Tablespoons salt
10 shakes of black pepper
3 Tablespoons Greek oregano
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons ground sage
3 Tablespoons finely chopped dried basil

Cut as much meat as possible off of ham bones and set aside. Put ham bones and dried beans, barley and peas in the 22 quart stock pot with the pot about half full with water. Place directly on stove on high heat. While that is heating up, puree the raw vegetables and onions in the food processor and add to the pot. This will take at least three processor batches. Press the garlic cloves into the pot; that is with a garlic press. Add enough water so that the pot is almost full; still allowing room to stir vigorously. Cover and bring it to a boil. Keep it boiling until all the beans, barley and peas are soft; stirring often with your industrial spoon that is long enough to reach the bottom without burning your fingers. Remove the bones and any strips of fat that are floating. Use a plate to scrape the peas, etc., and any remaining meat off the bones to return to the soup. Discard the bones. Cut up the meat that was set aside and add it to the soup. If there is still room, add water to restore it to the level before you removed the bones.

Put the dish rag in the middle of the bottom of the larger stock pot and add hot tap water. Place stainless stock pot into larger stock pot. The water should come about halfway up the sides of the outer pot; any more and it will bubble and perk out of the pot; any less and it will not transfer enough heat to the soup. This forms a giant double boiler, so you can leave the heat on half and simmer for hours, without worrying about scorching the soup (as long as you don’t let it boil dry and burn your rag – Believe me; it’s not a pleasant smell.).

Add the rest of the spices and stir them in. Leave it on the stove to heat for a few hours; stirring occasionally and making sure that the outer pot has enough water.

When you are ready to go to the street or whatever event you are going to; dump the soup (O, I meant to say pour) into a blue Igloo brand cube style cooler. Igloo is the only brand that doesn’t melt. (Melting cooler is not a flavor you want in your soup!) It will keep your soup piping hot for hours.

Bon Appetit!

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