Our local supermarket had an Easter ham promotion thing during March. If we earned 400 store points then we could choose a free ham or select an upgrade ham at .99$ a pound. Sure, I’ll take a free or discounted ham, thanks! Recently I mentioned this ham (I chose the upgrade since I’m rather particular) in the post about making homemade horseradish. The horseradish turned out less piquant than I hoped, and next time I’ll try waiting a while before adding the vinegar to increase the heat. Anyway, we ate ham and salad (tomato, dill, and scallion on rocket with salt, pepper, and olive oil) for a few days, but it was time to change things up a little… soup time! I do hesitate in calling this a soup, however. It is so thick that I can’t imagine it not being a stew although I have never really heard of anyone calling any bean soup a stew. (Perplexing.) Anyway, I have a photo of some ham with salad and will start with that:
As for the stew/soup I began by sautéing a chopped onion with the middle section of celery. I added a few chopped up leftover slices of grilled onion and a grilled long hot pepper since they were hanging around. I even tore up and tossed in bits of the charred onion skin for flavour. Then I figured “why not add some garlic,” and lazily threw in several whole cloves.
After the onion and celery were cooked through I poured in a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes.
Evidently I was in a very experimental mood. At this point I was planning on (and did) add a couple of anchovies thanks to reading an NPR bit which talked about using them in beef stews to add umami. Then! Then, I thought “why not a splash of brandy too??” I’d used brandy in a great beef stroganoff recently, so I had plenty on hand. At this point I wondered how crazy I was, because I was in uncharted territory with a bunch of things tossed into the pot, but… I went for it.
After the brandy cooked off I put the ham bone in and poured in water mixed with some of the ham juices.
I simmered it for a few hours before adding split peas and lentils for the last 45 minutes or so.
It turned out incredibly rich with flavour, and I do not regret anything in adding the brandy, anchovies, or burnt onion skin!