Welcome to Week Six of the Ten Canadian Provinces of New Recipe Tuesday! This week we explore the province of Ontario, the second largest province in area, but with over 13 million residents, it is the largest in population. One in three people in Canada live in Ontario.
I am pretty familiar with Ontario, as I grew up in Western New York and a day trip to Niagara Falls was something we did almost every summer. I also attended the University of Buffalo and crossed over the border to get some Brador beer more than once. Or if we were low on funds, maybe just some Molson. The first concert I ever attended was in the mid 1970s at Ontario Place in Toronto. It was a science center/amusement park, which had outdoor concerts during the summer. I think I was 14 or 15 at the time. My sister and I went with some friends and saw KC and the Sunshine Band. Yep, I’m that old. It was actually a whole lot of fun and I am proud to say that I was a big fan back in the day.
When I went looking for a recipe, I discovered that a soup you are all most likely familiar with traces its roots back to Ontario. During the 400th anniversary of the French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s mapping expeditions along the Ottawa River, it was celebrated that these early settlers relied on provisions brought over from Europe to sustain them. These ingredients included cured meats and dried peas, which were cooked into what is known as Habitant Pea Soup. With the addition of locally available fresh vegetables, this hearty soup has become a staple in Ontario cooking.
The recipe that I used is actually from several sources, but all used similar ingredients and techniques. I have made split pea soup before, but have always made the green stuff; never using the yellow peas. I also have never made a ham stock which adds a ton of flavor. If you want to shorten the overall recipe, you can skip the stock making and just use chicken stock.
I give this one a solid A, and the whole house really liked it. The taste between green and yellow peas is really minimal, but the cooking time for yellow is shorter than green, so you could make this on a weeknight if you wanted to. Very yummy, give it a try!
Thanks for sticking with me and stopping by. See you next time in Prince Edward Island!
Habitant Pea Soup
For the Ham broth:
- 2 small smoked ham hocks
- 1 c diced carrots
- 1 c diced celery
- 1 c diced onion
- 10 -12 cups cold water (enough to cover everything)
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 10 sprigs Italian flat parsley
- 15 whole black peppercorns
- ¼ lb bacon, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 8 c ham broth (or store bought chicken broth)
- 1 lb Split Yellow Peas
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ c each of diced carrots and celery
- ½ c diced green or yellow pepper
- ground pepper to taste
For the Ham Broth:
- In a large stock pot, place ham hocks, carrots, celery, onion and cold water (adding more cold water if needed to cover.)
- Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a slow simmer.
- Add the thyme, bay leaves, parsley and peppercorns. Simmer for 1½ hours, skimming any foam from time to time.
- Drain stock through a colander, discarding vegetables but setting the ham hocks aside to cool. Cool and refrigerate the stock. Once the ham hocks are cool enough to handle but still warm, clean the meat from the bones, discarding the fatty and skin parts. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces and store in the fridge or freezer until needed.
For the Soup:
- Sort and rinse peas.
- In large soup pot, cook bacon, onion and garlic until bacon is crisp; if desired, drain off excess fat.
- Add ham stock, yellow split peas and bay leaf. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and boil gently 30 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients, including the ham hock meat, and cook about 30 minutes longer or until peas and vegetables are tender.