16 oz dried split peas
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large Russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 Thema Sanders squash, peeled and cubed* (seeds reserved)
6 cups ham, chicken or turkey stock
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup cubed ham (I used leftover spiral sliced glazed ham)
paprika dusted squash seeds**
Place the split peas, stock, vegetables, herbs and spices in a 4-quart slow cooker. Cook on low 10-12 hours. 15-30 minutes prior to serving, brown the ham in a nonstick skillet.
Stir the ham into the slow cooker. Cover and cook for 15-30 additional minutes. Serve and garnish with toasted seeds.
*Can substitute acorn squash
**To make the seeds:
Preheat oven to 350. Place the cleaned seeds from the squash in a small pot. Fill halfway with water. Add 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil, more heavily with paprika. Stir to evenly distribute spice. Place in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the seeds then bake for an additional 5 minutes or until they no longer look wet are instead toasted and crunchy looking.
After a very long spell of slightly unseasonable warm weather, it looks like Baltimore is finally admitting it is fall. I hate to admit that as well, so I understand. So grudgingly, I admit it is now officially soup weather.
Pea soup is one of the most unattractive foods I can think of. There is a reason why they used it in The Exorcist. It is green, it is thick, it is gloppy. It is also pretty tasty and one of the thriftier soups you can make. For this version, I used a winter squash to add some flavor and texture and really loved it. It made for a much more exciting soup and lightened up the flavor a lot. The toasted squash seeds are optional but they add some flavor and texture interest too.