Ham and Barley Soup
It might officially be spring here in Vermont, but the nights are still cold! Nice hot soup for dinner is such a comforting way to take the chill out of a rainy spring evening. After Easter I had a lovely ham bone left over which I stuck in the freezer. After thawing it out and only using a few ingredients I created a soup the other night that had a light broth full of hearty ham and flavor. I like making homemade soups as you can monitor the amount of salt and other additives making an all around healthy alternative to what comes in the can.
1 ham bone
7 cups of water
1/4 cup of barley
1/4 cup of dried yellow (or green) split peas
1/4 cup of dried carrots
1/4 cup of dried celery
pinch of turmeric (optional – I use this for the lovely color and flavor)
*Note: I use dried carrot and celery pieces as I like the texture and flavor and they take the same amount of time to cook as the barley and dried peas. You could easily use fresh carrots and celery though and just make sure they are tender before serving.
Place the ham bone in a large pot. Add water and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, add all other ingredients.
Simmer over low heat for 2 hours or until thickened and reduced, stirring occasionally. Once the ham has fallen off of the bone, use a spoon to fish out the bone pieces and break up any larger chunks of ham.
If you are going to eat this soup right away, you can cook it down a little more (approximately half an hour) and season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. I actually like to make this ahead of time, either the day before or early the morning of, so that I can skim off the fat. To do this, simply cover and put in the refrigerator until the soup is cold and the fat has turned hard and white on the top. Using a spoon you can then scoop out the fat.
Once that is done, you can then heat and cook for about a half hour, season, and serve. This recipe makes approximately 5 cups of soup and is super delicious when served with homemade croutons!