Split Pea Soup
4 bacon strips, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery rib, diced
1 leek, white and light green part diced
6 cups chicken broth
2 yellow or white potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 lb. split green or yellow peas, or lentils
1 ham hock
Cheesecloth sachet: bay leaf, whole clove, garlic clove, 5 peppercorns
Salt to taste
1 C. croutons
Cook bacon in soup pot until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons drippings. Add onion, carrot, celery and leek, stirring well. Cover pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add broth, potatoes, peas and ham. Bring to simmering and cook over medium heat 20 minutes. Add the sachet and simmer until split peas are soft, about 30 minutes. Skim soup as needed.
Discard sachet. Remove ham hock and cool, then cut ham off bone and dice. Strain soup through a sieve, reserving liquid. Puree the solids, returning them to the pot. Add enough of the liquid to achieve a thick consistency. Blend well. Stir in the ham and bacon. Season with salt, pepper. Garnish with croutons.
Yield: 8 servings.