Ham and Split Pea Soup

There are unphotogenic foods, and there are unphotogenic foods. It’s tough to make a mushy bowl of legumes look appetizing, no matter how delicious it might be off the screen; it’s even tougher when after being cooked, said lentils form an amorphous mass that’s just about the exact color and texture of fresh vomit. And I’m a parent now, so trust me when I say that I know a thing or two about vomit.

Still, let it be known: there’s something undeniably comforting about split pea soup with ham, even to this avowed Jew. I have no fuzzy childhood memories of slurping down a bowl of this rib-sticking soup on a blustery fall day; I only ate the stuff for the first time when I made it myself. When I did, though, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the soup was a lot tastier than it was beautiful—warm and toothsome and pleasingly salty, the kind of dish a food magazine might describe as an “umami bomb.” (Personally, I don’t believe “umami” is a real flavor; I will not be accepting questions at this time.) Continue reading