Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

split pea

Let’s face it, most families don’t often make a bone in, baked ham on their weekly rotation of meals, but on special holidays it’s often the star of the show.

Thanksgiving was a just a few days ago and ham was on the menu at my sister-in-laws house. Since she didn’t feel like doing anything with the ham bone she wrapped it up, rang my doorbell and gifted it to me!

ham bone

Lucky me, there was still a lot of meat left on the bone so split pea with ham was surely going to happen! If you’ve never made split pea using a ham bone, you’re missing out. It gives it a ton of flavor and elevates the soup to another level, even pea haters love this soup!

sofrito

Just a few ingredients to start the soup off, then it’s a nice slow simmer so all the flavors can meld together.

making soup

Grab a big pot with a lid and nestle the ham bone right into the center, then in a couple of hours you’ll be able to pick the meat off the bone.

pot of soup

As you stir the soup while it’s simmering the peas will break down and become nice and creamy!

split pea

Just the smell of of this soup simmering on the stove makes your home feel all comfy and cozy, it’s such a hearty and satisfying soup.

croutons

Keep in mind, you need something crunchy on top for garnish. So if you have any leftover bread, please make your own croutons. I had some leftover ciabatta bread that I cut up in cubes, drizzled it well with olive oil, then sprinkled it with salt and pepper then into a 400 degree oven til nice and golden.

hearty soup

Crunchy croutons on top of such a hearty, creamy, smokey, meaty delicious soup, I could go on and on!

There are many variations of this soup, some add potatoes ,but I don’t think you need them at all. Some add bacon instead of a ham bone, it may be good, but it’s just not the same. There are vegetarian versions but today we’re not going there. Try this once with a ham bone and you’ll be hooked!

Ham bones freeze well so if you don’t feel like making this right away, tuck it into your freezer for when you do.

And lastly this soup freezes well, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Ham Bone Split Pea Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 meaty ham bone, make sure to leave meat on that bone
  • 1- 1lb. bag of green split peas, rinsed well
  • 1 quart of chicken stock, low sodium
  • 5 cups, water ( more to thin out soup if it thickens too much later)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 thyme branches, stripped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • olive oil
  • good knob of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Homemade croutons for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot with lid, drizzle the bottom with olive oil and add the knob of butter.
  2. Throw in the chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic, saute til soft.
  3. Add the split peas and stir well.
  4. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves along with the 2 bay leaves and a grind of black pepper.
  5. Hold off on the salt until the end for taste because some hams tend to be saltier than others.
  6. Pour in the chicken broth then nestle the ham bone right in the center.
  7. Add additional cups of water, stirring well, then bring it to a boil, reduce, and let it simmer with lid on almost covered completely.
  8. Cooking times vary somewhere between an hour and a half to 2 hours, mine took almost 2 hours on very low. The peas will break down and get nice and creamy
  9. Keep checking and stirring.
  10. When you start to see the meat falling off the bone, remove the bone, let it cool a little then start picking the meat off and placing the shredded meat back into the pot.
  11. Discard bone.
  12. Taste for salt, pepper and thyme, adding more if needed. Always stirring to check for thickness.
  13. If need be, add a little more water for a looser soup. It's up to you on how thick you want your soup.
  14. Garnish with homemade croutons.
  15. Use a hearty style bread, cut into cubes, drizzled with olive oil, black pepper and a touch of salt.
  16. Place into a 400 degree oven until crispy and golden, it goes fast so keep checking.
  17. Enjoy!

 

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Make Ahead Manicotti with Tips and Tricks

manicotti

Manicotti is a great dish to make and prep the day before you’re having a party, all the work and mess will be finished and cleaned up and you’ll be left with your perfect pan of piped manicotti ready to be popped into the oven the next day.

Many Italian families make their homemade manicotti crepes-style, but in my family we always used the dry manicotti pasta tubes that come in a box, it’s what I grew up on and what my family prefers, so in this post I share with you some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years in making them.manicotti

Many issues can come up in making the pasta-style manicotti, issues like over cooking, tearing pasta, collapsed tubes which are difficult to stuff and the actual process of stuffing them which can become a big mess, but if you follow my tips you should have no problem at all!

 

I have a box of Wilton, twelve inch disposable decorating bags, I use them every time I need to stuff pasta neatly, I use them whenever I make homemade ravioli for all my fillings plus it makes the process go much faster and cleaner.

 

No tip is needed for the bags, you’re just going to snip a little off  the end so the filling can flow through smoothly. Test it out by holding the manicotti tube on a slight angle making sure it flows in nicely, if it doesn’t snip a little more off the end.

To fill the bag easily without the cheese mixture falling out all over the place, I always place the bag into a tall glass which will give you stability when filling it, as noted in the picture above. Fill it 3/4 of the way with a spoon and then grab the bag and squeeze from the top so the filling can fall down to the shaft of the bag where you cut it. The glass also acts as a holder for you and everything stays nice and neat during the whole process.manicotti

You can stuff these tubes with just about anything, but I prefer the creamy cheese manicotti with an addition of either spinach, parsley or basil. By prepping ahead of time with your sauce and cheese mixture it’s really then all about the assembly.manicotti

When making a large amount of manicotti for a party I only boil up one box at a time, then I scoop them out with a spider and quickly rinse with cold water, drain them onto a paper towel lined baking sheet and gently pat dry, then believe it or not I like to place the partially cooked pasta back into those individual slots they lay in from the box, this way it gives you more control and will insure them not sticking together while you’re preparing to stuff them. I do the same procedure if using only one box as well.

By scooping them out you’ll still have your hot pot of boiling water going for your next batch. Depending on how much your making you might loose some of the water but just add to it if needed and let it reboil again.

A very important tip is to cook them only for 5 minutes, I repeat, 5 minutes! Then scoop them out and rinse them under cold water.  I don’t care if the box says cook for 8 minutes or 11 minutes I’m telling you just 5! Besides, they’ll  spend more time baking under foil in the oven so when finished they’ll have the perfect bite.

Oh, and never ever pour them out into a strainer because they’ll stick together and break for sure.

manicotti

It’s holiday time and baked manicotti is a delicious pasta course to have for your next party or get together. A beautiful individual portion that stands up well by itself or next to anything else you might be serving on the plate, besides there’s always room for pasta!

5.0 from 5 reviews
Make Ahead Manicotti with Tips and Tricks
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 box of manicotti pasta tubes, 8 oz.
  • 2 quarts prepared marinara, preferably homemade or a good quality store bought
  • 4 cups ricotta, drained of any liquid
  • ½ cup or so grated romano cheese plus extra for garnish
  • 1½ cups of shredded blend of 4 cheeses, Quattro Formaggio ( Trader Joes) or something similar or all mozzarella if you can't find it.
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ cup of chopped frozen spinach, (completely drained of liquid) or fresh chopped parley or basil plus
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ( 12 inch disposable decorator bags) a must
  • Everything can be doubled or tripled for a large crowd
Instructions
  1. Cook manicotti shells in boiling salted water with a teaspoon of olive oil for 5 minutes only, no matter what the back of the box tells you.
  2. After 5 minutes scoop out pasta with a spider then run them quickly under cold water to cool down.
  3. Spread them onto a paper towel lined baking sheet, let them drain a little and gently pat them dry with a paper towel, then lay each tube into the individual slotted holder that they came packaged in the box.
  4. In a large bowl combine the ricotta, romano, shredded cheeses and spinach or herbs, basically everything except the egg yolks, use a hand mixer to get it nice and smooth.
  5. Taste it for enough cheese, salt and pepper, when you are satisfied with the taste add the 2 egg yolks and incorporate it with the hand mixer.
  6. Place a disposable decorator bag into a tall glass for stability ( no tip required) then spoon some of the ricotta mixture into it, filling it three quarters of the way up. Snip off the bottom enough so that the filling squeezes through with ease into the pasta hole.
  7. Spread enough marinara to cover the bottom of your baking dish.
  8. Pick up one pasta tube and tip it on an angle and with your decorator bag start piping the ricotta mix in as far as it goes, if it doesn't reach the other end just flip to that side and fill it up.
  9. Lay it down on top of the marinara sauce and repeat until all are filled.
  10. When all the manicotti are filled spoon more marinara on top with some grated cheese.
  11. Cover with foil.
  12. At this point you can refrigerate the whole pan and the next day take it out a good hour or so before baking to get it close to room temperature.
  13. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees, keep pan covered with foil and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through because ovens do vary.
  14. Remove from the oven, take off the foil and let it set for 5 minutes, spoon some warm sauce on top and garnish with more grated cheese.
  15. Ready to serve!

 

 

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Party and Picnic Timpano

timpano With the Fourth of July right around the corner and the many other celebrations that will be going on this summer, like graduations, family reunions, picnics, birthdays and loads of other get- togethers, I thought I would bring back the idea of making a timpano. What’s a timpano you might ask?

A timpano is a huge round drum or dome of delicious crust that is filled with pasta, meatballs, salami, cheeses and sauce, it is self contained, huge and feeds a crowd, It’s party food to the max and has a ton of WOW factor!

timpano Timpano was made famous by the movie Big Night, staring Stanley Tucci. The timpano, (which is the real star of the movie),was actually his moms recipe. I’ve been making it for special occasions and parties since the first time I saw the movie and bought his cookbook many years ago.

I love this scene in the movie, the first time we saw it, both my kids said “mom you got to make that! ” And I’ve been doing it ever since.

timpano pan The vessel you cook it in is VERY important so as to get the right shape, it looks like a big basin made out of old enamelware. I took a permanent magic marker and wrote my name on the back, this will be a family heirloom that will be past down to my kids with lots of happy memories attached. This is the pan I use.

homemade marinara Since I’ve made it so many times I sort of simplified the sauce, Stanley’s family makes a meaty ragu, I just make my homemade marinara, it’s much lighter and not as heavy, besides there’s so much going on inside with all the other ingredients. The mini meatballs I just make ahead of time and bake them.

timpano ingredients As far as all the ingredients go everything can be prepped ahead of time which is a great time saver for a big party going on. Like I said I make my marinara, cook up my mini meatballs, pre -cook the pasta (very al’dente), cook my eggs and chop up my cheese and salami. Everything gets put into a ziplock bag and ready for assembly.

timpano ingredients Even the dough I make the night before so it’s all prepped and ready, just make sure it’s at room temperature before you start rolling it out.

You see it’s really not that daunting of a recipe to make, don’t let it scare you, it’s fairly simple, a little time consuming with the prep, but then that’s it! The day you put it together will be a breeze and no clean up.

rolling timpano dough For all the years I have been making timpano I can honestly say I have NEVER had any problems with the dough, it always comes out perfect!

rolled out timpano dough Just take your time rolling it so that it drapes way over the pan, you’re going to be filling it with some heavy stuff and you’ll need to be able to close it up with out any of the ingredients showing.

 Fill it to the brim!

timpano Sauce it one last time then wrap it up like a present and bake it.

baked timpano The smells are unbelievable!

cooked timpano But I have to stress a very important step, LET IT REST, a good 45 minutes to an hour, think turkey rest, otherwise you will cut into it and it will be a big saucy mess, you won’t be able to slice it into nice wedges. You know how lasagna is when you try and cut it piping hot? It’s a hot mess, you don’t want that.

I have taken this whole, baked piping hot timpano, wrapped it up in heavy towels and brought it to picnics and family reunions where it would be sitting for 2 hours and it was still hot when I cut into it, just remember if you transport it you need something to cut it on and a good serrated knife. Did I mention it feeds a ton?

cut open timpano This is fun party food, people will be talking about it and craving it for your next gathering. It’s just some basic Italian essentials all wrapped up in a crusty drum of pasta dough where all the flavors meld together in perfect harmony with amazing results!

timpano wedge Try to stash a piece for your self the next day, leftovers are awesome.

slice of timpano

Stanley Tucci’s original timpano recipe is here, but remember I replace his rich ragu with my lighter homemade marinara.

Otherwise follow his directions to the tee I should show you my own personal copy of this recipe, it’s filled with yellow highlighted marks all over.

Study the recipe well, once a good friend of mine made this for a very special occasion, she forgot one important step, covering it with foil, the top burned, she cried…

Go ahead now, make a timpano for your next party or picnic, no need to be intimidated.

Come see what I’m cooking up during the week on Instagram, you can follow me here.

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