The Main Menu: If a bone-in ham is in your holiday plans, you will have a Happy New Year

By JAN MAIN

If a bone-in-ham plays a part in your holiday celebrations, it will be a Happy New Year indeed! It means you can welcome in the New Year with a sustaining, steaming bowl of split pea soup – the perfect anecdote to the January blahs!

This soup helps decrease increased waistlines (a good source of protein and fiber while low in fat) while increasing savings (inexpensive ingredients) from decreased pocketbooks. Easy to make, it is nutritious and ever so cheap to prepare. What could be better as a Christmas anti-climax?

Ham Stock from Leftovers

1                                  ham bone with any ham bits attached

10 cups (2 ½ L)        water

1                                  onion, chopped

2                                  carrots, coarsely chopped

2                                  celery stalks, chopped

1                                  bay leaf

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, arrange bone with any leftover meat attached. Cover with cold water; add onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer covered 1 ½ -2 hours. Strain through sieve, discard any solids but save any meat left on the bone and chop finely. Set meat aside; cover and refrigerate to use later.

Let ham stock cool or place in large bowl filled with ice for quick cooling. Once cool; discard any fat. The remaining stock is now ready to be made into soup or measure and put measured amount of stock in plastic container and freeze for up to 2 months for future use. Date and label stock. If making into soup, follow these directions:

Split Pea Soup

Serve split pea soup piping hot with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, a warmed whole grain bread and a salad for hearty lunch or supper. Split peas are an inexpensive but tasty source of fiber and protein, ideal for post- holiday diets.

2 cups (500 mL)      split peas, washed and set aside

2 cups (500 mL)      chopped carrots (about 2 large carrots)

2 cups (500 mL)      chopped celery with finely chopped leaves (about 3 stalks)

1                                  large onion chopped

1                                  bay leaf

9 cups (2.5 L)           reserved ham stock with any fat removed and discarded

½ tsp (2 mL)             fresh black pepper

¼ cup (50 mL)         fresh dill, finely chopped (optional)

Salt to taste

In large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium – high heat, add, split peas, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaf and reserved stock. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer altogether until vegetables and split peas are tender about 1 ½- 2 hours. Taste split peas to ensure tenderness; if they are still firm; cook another 15 -20 minutes or until tender. Stir in reserved ham, dill and pepper. Taste for salt. Salt will depend on the saltiness of the ham. You may not need any additional seasoning.

Serve soup piping hot with a whole grain loaf and a salad for a lunch or supper. Alternatively, cover soup and refrigerate until ready to serve. It may be kept covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze for up to 3 months. Makes about 14 cups (3. 5 L)


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