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Pea soup gets flavor from an Easter ham

After enjoying a dinner of Easter ham, you can use the bone to make a wonderful split-pea soup. The ham bone gives the soup a slightly smoky flavor, and if there are any bits of meat left, they can be added to the soup just before serving. Pea soup is filling, so it can be the main part of a meal, along with a salad and crusty French bread.

Toasted croutons make a nice garnish for this soup. To make croutons, use bread that is at least two days old. Allow 1 slice of bread per serving. Cut crust from bread and cut in 1/2-inch cubes. Over medium heat, melt some butter in a skillet, add bread cubes, and fry them, stirring often, until golden brown. Split Pea Soup 2 cups green split peas 1 medium-size carrot, chopped 1 large rib celery, chopped 1 ham bone 1 large onion, peeled and chopped 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves 2 bay leaves Pinch of rosemary Pinch of thyme 8 cups water Worcestershire sauce Salt and freshly ground pepper Croutons, optional

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In soup kettle, combine vegetables, ham bone, seasonings, and water. Bring liquid to boil, reduce heat, and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/ 2 hours, or until peas are very tender. Remove ham bone and bay leaves.

In container of food processor or blender, whirl mixture, 2 cupfuls at a time , until it is smooth. Transfer puree to a large saucepan.

Add bits of leftover ham. Bring soup to serving temperature. Season to taste with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Serve garnished with croutons.

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