Split Pea Soup with Speck

I woke up today craving split pea soup. It's hearty and heart-warming, but isn't a dish one would ordinarily think of on the awaking of spring. But, cravings can be nonsensical and unforgiving, especially when it comes to food. I am only glad this fix is for a healthy dose of something good and good for me.

Perhaps I was inspired by our friend, Herb Eckhouse's amazing applewood smoked speck from La Quercia. Its surprisely sweet and has a lusciously tender texture that melts on the tongue. Herb and his wife Kathy were recently featured in a NY Times article as one of the top artisan proscuitto producers. La Quercia proscuitto is made right here in the U.S.A. Herb and Kathy spent five years in Parma, so it's no surprise some of that good breeding has been infused into La Quercia proscuitto. They also makes guanciale, lardo, and pancetta. All favorite Italian flavorings that can be used in many ways. I am still learning and look forward to experimenting more in the kitchen.

And so, it would seem that the split pea soup is really just an excuse to serve Herb's speck in a new and delicious way. I just can't get enough!


1 Tablespoon bacon drippings {I always keep on hand from Sunday breakfast bacon}. * substitute with butter
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped celery {I love the tender heart stalks with the leafy greens}
1 cup chopped carrots
16 oz. dried split peas
8 cups organic chicken stock
4 oz. La Quercia Speck

In a large pot, heat the bacon drippings and butter over medium heat. Add the onions,celery and carrots, salt and pepper.
Saute until slightly tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the peas, chicken stock. Slice the fat off the speck in one piece and add to the soup.

Bring soup to a boil and simmer, covered, until peas are tender and breaking up and the vegetables are cooked. About 1 1/2- 2 hours.
Serve warm with small cubed pieces of speck, about 1/8 inch in diameter. Top with a shard of parmesan cheese and serve with baked Pane Rustico flatbread.

Serves 4-6

Buon appetito!
copyright 2009 Alisa Barry

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