Hearty Ham and Split Pea Soup with Caraway

Hearty Ham and Split Pea Soup with Caraway
Serves 6

Use a rolling pin or heavy-bottomed pot to crush the caraway seeds. To bulk up the soup you can also add 4 new red potatoes, cut into medium dice, when adding the vegetables to the soup.

1 leftover meaty ham bone
1 quart chicken broth
4 bay leaves
1 pound (2 cups) split peas
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, toasted in a small dry skillet until fragrant, then ground*
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 each: medium onions, carrots, celery stalks
1 tablespoon butter
2 medium garlic cloves
Pinch sugar
Ground black pepper

Bring 1 quart of broth, 2 quarts of water, ham, and bay leaves to simmer over medium-high in large soup kettle. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until ham has given up most of its flavor to the broth, 11/2 to 2 hours. Add split peas and toasted caraway seeds; continue to simmer, partially covered, until split peas are tender, about 45 minutes. Remove ham from soup and shred when cool enough to handle; discard bone.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; sauté, stirring frequently, until most of their liquid evaporates and vegetables start to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add butter, garlic, and a pinch of sugar. Spread vegetables in a single layer and continue to cook, stirring once or twice, until vegetables are a rich brown color, about 20 minutes; set aside.

Add vegetables to soup; simmer until tender and peas have just dissolved and just started to thickened soup, about 15 minutes longer. Add shredded ham to soup; simmer to heat through. Ladle into bowls and serve.