Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dutch Oven Split Pea & Ham Soup With Biscuits

For the last few weeks, now, that ham bone has been staring at me from the back of the fridge. Covered in aluminum foil, in a colorful ceramic bowl, it mocked me. “You never finished me off!”

So, today I did. I got this basic recipe from the book “Wholly Frijoles! – The Whole Bean Cookbook” by Shayne Fisher, Golden West Publishers, then I modded it a little for Dutch Ovening.

Dutch Oven Split Pea & Ham Soup

12” deep dutch oven
10-17 briquettes below (more when getting a boil going, less when simmering). At times, when getting it boiling, I also had a few on top.

  • 1 lb bag of dried split peas
  • 1 ham bone with lots of meat left on it.
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 1 diced potato
  • Generous shakes of oregano, thyme, and garlic
  • Liberally season with salt and coarse ground pepper to taste

I started out with a lot of hot coals, probably around 17+, maybe as many as 20, all underneath my deep 12” dutch oven. I put in the ham bone first. It was the one I had left over from a couple of weeks ago. When it was all done, there was a hint of the original baste from the ham in the taste. Mmmmm…

I added the peas (dry, of course), the onions and the water, and set it on the coals, covered. After about 20 minutes or so it was boiling. At that point, it was interesting to manage the heat. I had to take off enough coals to have it simmer, but not so many that it just sat there being hot. I can’t really tell you how many that was. I started with about ten, and that number changed both up and down as the coals burned and the soup cooked.

Now in the process of simmering the soup, I worked on the biscuits.

Doing the biscuits was a kind of last minute thing, since I hadn’t really planned on it, and it took me a while to find a recipe that included all the ingredients I had.

Dutch Oven Whipped Cream Biscuits

Modified from a recipe at Byron’s

12” shallow dutch oven
20 coals above
12 coals below

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs baking powder (not heaping, but not level either)
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 half pint cartons of whipping cream

First, I blended all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then one by one stirred in each carton of cream. When that was mixed, I did have to sprinkle on a touch of flour because it was still a little sticky.

Then, I floured my counter top and rolled it out to a ¾” thick slab. I’m not too accustomed to rolling dough, so I actually got out a tape measure and checked it. If my wife had come out and seem me doing that she would have laughed her head off. Hey, I didn’t know. Now I do. I’m not OCD. Really.

I used a small 3” cup to cut the circles. The original recipe said that if you twist the cup, it ruins the biscuits. I was careful not to twist, but I’m not sure how it would ruin them. Something about releasing the air in the dough?

Anyway, pammed (oil spray) the inside of my dutch oven, I arranged a bunch of them pretty snug in the bottom. Then I took that outside and let it raise for 10 minutes or so with the lid on.

By then, I had some more coals ready, and I set it up. Many of the coals that I put on the biscuits had come out from under the soup dutch oven. Some were nearing the end of their useful burning life. But I figured that since the biscuits would only bake for 20 minutes, tops, that would be OK.


We’ll come back to this.

With biscuits baking, I chopped up the potatoes and the celery for the soup. I mixed all the seasonings (generous and liberal) into that bowl, and then dumped it all in the pot. I replenished the coals, making it hot again to boil. Not long after this, I also took off the lid. I was hoping to boil down some of the liquid in the soup. That turned out to be a good idea.

Meanwhile, the biscuits weren’t cooking right. The poofed up like they were supposed to, and they looked great, but they just wouldn’t finish, and they just wouldn’t brown. I don’t know if I just never got it to the 400 degrees I needed, or if I was checking them too often, or what. Finally, they looked and felt like they were baked through, but still not even tanning up much on top. So, I took them off the bottom coals, and piled more coals on the lid. The final cooking time for the biscuits was almost an hour, including the last ten minutes with only top heat.

I’ll have to say that they ended up both delicious and a nice fluffy texture. Still, I’m not sure why it took so long.

The soup was incredible! Everyone seems to like their split pea soup to be a different consistency. I just simmered and cooked off the liquid until the potatoes were done and the peas were my kinda consistency.

I brought it in, cut the meat off the bone, and served it. I always eat too much on Sundays…

Post Script:

I was surprised to find a linkback! Someone found some interest in the ham recipe and noted it in their blog! Thanks for the contact!

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