How I Made Soup out of Rescued Garbage

Or one woman’s trash is another’s soup ingredient

I couldn’t keep quiet

I stood in Val’s kitchen, watching the knife in her hand. We normally only see Val and her husband on Christmas Eve because we live so far from each other. We drive three hours to see these old friends, and Val prepares dinner. One part of that meal is usually a delicious ham.

As our husbands talked in the living room, Val and I chatted in the kitchen as she put the finishing touches on dinner. That’s why I was watching as Val began slicing the ham. The bone was still within.

As we stood there, I watched Val cut the heel off the ham and throw it in the trash. Then she found another piece that had some fat and gristle. Into the trash it went, too. My frugal soul could no longer keep silent, especially since I wasn’t going to be baking ham that year. “Why are you throwing those pieces away?” I asked. She said she saw no reason to keep it.

“Aren’t you going to make soup?”

“Nope. But if you want the scraps and the bone, I’ll send them home with you.”

And so she did. I had a small ice chest with me since we had a motel for the night. It had a fridge for keeping things cold and refreezing my blue ice for the next day.

Here’s how what would have been in her trash became my split pea soup — with ham.

I took the photo.

From garbage to soup

Trips take a lot out of me, so it was a couple of days after arriving home before I started cooking again. I’d been wanting to make split pea soup, and now that I had some excellent ham (Val always buys the best), the time was right. I found a recipe online and modified it to fit what I had on hand. For example,I usually like more garlic and onion than a recipe calls for. For the past few years I’ve hardly used recipes at all except as starting points. After that I dump in whatever I have that seems to go with everything I’ve added so far.

I filled my crockpot with 7 cups of water, a 16-ounce package of rinsed and sorted dried split peas, a teaspoon of salt, several sliced carrots, and a few stalks of sliced celery. Then I used my food processor to chop a couple of medium onions and a few cloves of garlic. After that, I threw the ham bone and scraps in and turned the crockpot on high. When it was boiling, I turned it down to low and continued to cook it until the peas were tender.

That night I put the pot in the refrigerator to chill to make it easier to get the congealed fat off the top. The next day I attacked it with a spoon. This video shows my results.

After removing the fat I began to process the meat. I removed it from the bone and trimmed all the visible fat and gristle off the meat before cutting it in bite-size chunks. Then I returned the meat to the pot and heated it on low until we were ready to eat it.

It was delicious. I only wish I could have shared a bowl with my friends. I’d like to show them how her trash became part of several delicious meals beginning on New Year’s Eve and continuing during the beginning of the new year.

Christian, bereaved adoptive mom, blogger, amateur nature photographer, voracious reader. Married 56 years. Central Coast of California.

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