I realize Thanksgiving is all about the big bird but, if your family is anything like mine, it’s a little bit about some ham as well. I remember Thanksgiving feasts at my grandparents’ house: a meal with all the fixings, lovingly prepared in a way only a grandmother could pull off. My grandfather still insists he hasn’t had a “real” Thanksgiving holiday unless my grandmother cooks the dinner; I’m inclined to agree. I’ve even chosen to ignore all these years those extra turkey parts that flavored her stuffing. It tasted so good it didn’t matter! After the meal had been eaten, the turkey coma worn off, and a few card games with the cousins later, it was time for a later bite to eat—ham sandwiches. They weren’t anything fancy, just slices off a spiraled ham, some spicy mustard and some tiny buttery rolls, accompanied by Nanny’s famous potato and macaroni salads. But they meant one last meal together for the day, before my cousins returned to Vermont and before we left the magic of my grandparents’ house for our own home. I loved those ham sandwiches almost as much as I loved the regular Thanksgiving meal (which is saying a lot since, now that we’re adults, my sister and I host a “friends-giving” so we can celebrate the holiday—and feast—twice each year!).
So, remembering those ham sandwiches, even on a day when the bird takes center stage, I’m sharing a recipe for Michael’s Pea Soup made with, of course, a ham hock. Michael is my father-in-law, and I’m happy to have this recipe passed down to me, not only because it’s delicious, but also because I love shared family recipes. Bonus points because it was hand written on a note card by my mother-in-law, and in a way that reminds me of my grandmother’s recipes—not many exact measurements, and a short set of instructions. I’ll share the recipe as it was written for me.
What a great way to use an otherwise discarded component of a meal. I’m sure Nanny will approve!
Have a happy, safe and feast-filled Thanksgiving!
Michael’s Pea Soup
Ham bone or shoulder bone—put in large pot, cover it with water.
Bring to full boil, then turn down to simmer for 1 hour—put 2 or 3 bay leaves in water while it simmers.
Add: 1 ½ bags of split green peas, 6 carrots peeled and sliced, 1 large onion diced, salt and pepper to taste.
Boil again, then turn down to simmer for approx. 1 ½ hours—stir frequently.
Add ham pieces when it simmers.