Having never been a fan of spit pea soup, I was surprised at how many requests we got for it at the cafe. To accommodate, I bought green split pea soup from a vendor, but quickly decided that soup just wouldn't do; it was a green, gelatinous mess that customers ordered, but I abhorred. The search for something better began, and this soup is the result. The yellow split peas have true "pea" flavor, and the addition of lots of aromatics and carrots give it a mellow yet robust flavor and a surprising color. This soup is pureed, silky and smooth, and the addition of chunks of potato and briny ham are just what it needed to become a standout on the menu. This version was very popular, and it made a split pea soup fan out of me!
3 Tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
8 large carrots, peeled and sliced
3 minced cloves of garlic
1 pound yellow split peas
12 cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
3 large potatoes, cooked in their jackets, cooled, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (I bake them in the microwave until just tender.)
8 ounces diced, cooked ham
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Melt the butter in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Saute for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until everything starts to soften and be aromatic. Add the split peas and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a good simmer, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the peas are soft and tender.
Remove from the heat. Add the sherry and hot sauce. Puree in the pot with an immersion blender until velvety and smooth. (Alternately, puree the soup in a blender in batches, filling only 1/2 way. Return to soup pot.) Return to the heat, and stir in the diced potatoes and ham and heat through. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.