Use a small 2 1/2-pound smoked picnic portion ham if you can find one. Otherwise, buy a half-picnic ham and remove some meat, which you can save for use in sandwiches, salads, or omelets. The finished soup will continue to thicken as it stands but can be thinned with some water when reheated. To cut 45 minutes off the cooking time of the soup, simmer the ham 1 1/2 hours, then add the split peas to the pot. When the ham is tender, after about 45 minutes more of simmering, remove it and shred.
1. Bring 3 quarts water, ham, and bay leaves to boil, covered, over medium-high heat in large soup kettle. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is tender and pulls away from bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove ham meat and bone from broth; add split peas and thyme and simmer until peas are tender but not dissolved, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, when ham is cool enough to handle, shred meat into bite-sized pieces (see illustration below) and set aside. Discard rind and bone.
2. While ham is simmering, heat oil in large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add onions, carrots, and celery; sauté, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid evaporates and vegetables begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low; add butter, garlic, and sugar. Cook vegetables, stirring frequently, until deeply browned, 30 to 35 minutes; set aside.
3. Add sautéed vegetables, potatoes, and shredded ham to soup; simmer until potatoes are tender and peas dissolve and thicken soup to the consistency of light cream, about 20 minutes more. Season with ground black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, sprinkle with red onion, if using, and serve, passing balsamic vinegar separately.
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|Serving Size: 1 Serving (180g)|
|Recipe Makes: 6 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 29 (30%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 3.2g||4 %|
|Saturated Fat 1.4g||7 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 1.3g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 0.3g|
|Cholesterol 5.1mg||2 %|
|Sodium 16.6mg||1 %|
|Potassium 401.1mg||11 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 16.1g||5 %|
|Dietary Fiber 2.2g||9 %|
|Sugars, other 13.8g|
|Protein 1.9g||3 %|
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Calories per serving: 98
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