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   I don’t know where I came up with the the idea for split pea soup as a Christmas Eve tradition, other than the fact that my husband and oldest daughter LOVE it! But this savory, hearty soup has become another Christmas taste memory for our family. Even though my daughter has married and we now spend Christmas Eve with her in-laws, we added our soup to their tradition of tamales. The whole dinner is a potluck gathering of about 20-25 people. Some of us are family by blood and some are family by choice! Whatever the relationship, we come together to share a special night and some delicious food!
There is a little bit of upfront prep work for this soup, but it’s really pretty easy and you can alter it to make it easier or if you want to invest the time you can jazz it up. This year I decided to cut back on the onion and instead I added some caramelized shallots. You don’t have to do this, but I’ll also probably hit with my immersion blender before serving. This will break up and chunks, ensure it’s mixed really well (This soup does want to separate if it sits too long), and give it a creamier texture. Like I said, you don’t have to do this step. I didn’t have an immersion blender for years and my soup was still great.

So I guess I would just like to encourage you to develop your own holiday traditions, whatever holiday you celebrate! My family really didn’t have too many specific traditions and I felt that lack, so my family developed some of our own over the years and it always makes you feel good when friends and family request those special things that they want you to do or make.

Merry Christmas to all my food blogging friends!!!

Split Pea Soup

16 oz bag split peas

8 cups water

2 ham hocks (I like plain, but you can use smoked too. It just alters the flavor, but it’s good too.)

3 large or 5 small carrots, finely chopped

1/2 white onion, finely chopped

1 shallot,sliced and caramelized (see my post on 12/4/15 for tips on caramelization)

2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Sort through split peas while dry to remove any shells or stones. Put all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove ham hocks from slow cooker and transfer to cutting board. Discard fat and bones from ham hocks. Chop up meat and return that to the slow cooker. Before serving, mix well or blend with immersion blender and taste to see if you need more salt and pepper.