Golden Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham and Crispy-Fried Onions

(Serves about 4)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces (about ½ pound) smoked, Black Forest ham, diced small
½ teaspoon dried Marjoram
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ¼ cup yellow split peas (dried), picked over and rinsed in cold water
5½ cups hot chicken stock
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
• Crispy-Fried Onions (recipe below), as garnish

Preparation:

-In a large non-stick pot set over medium-high heat, add the butter and the olive oil; once melted together, add in the diced ham, stir, and allow to crisp up a bit for a few minutes; once browned and crispy, add in the marjoram and the black pepper, stir, and then add in the diced onion, carrot and celery; allow the mixture to sauté for a few minutes until the vegetables soften a bit, and then add in the chopped garlic; once the garlic becomes aromatic, add in the yellow split peas, and stir to incorporate them into the ham/vegetable mixture; next, add in the hot chicken stock, stir once more, and allow it to come to the boil; once it comes to the boil, adjust the heat to low/medium-low, cover with a lid slightly askew, and gently simmer for about an hour, until the split peas begin to break down and thicken up the soup; after an hour, or once all peas are pretty well broken down, turn the heat off from under the pot, and just allow for the soup to set for about 15-20 minutes longer; finally, add in the lemon juice and the fresh parsley, stir to combine, and ladle the soup into bowls, and garnish with the Crispy-Fried Onions.

Crispy-Fried Onions ingredients:

• Peanut or vegetable oil for frying (about 2 cups worth)
½ onion, cut in half again, and sliced very thinly
¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt, plus a couple of pinches, divided use
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

Preparation:

-Begin by slowly heating up the oil in a medium-sized pot (bringing it to about 350 degrees), while you prepare the onions.

-In a small dish, add the flour, the ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon paprika, and mix together with a fork; set aside for a moment.

-In a medium-sized bowl, add in the sliced onions, and a pinch of salt; next, sprinkle the sliced onions with the flour mixture, and toss the slices well to coat; once the oil is hot, add the onions, working in batches, to the hot oil, and fry them for a few moments until golden-brown and crispy; with a slotted spoon or wire spider, remove the crispy onions from the oil, and place onto a paper towel to drain, sprinkling them with a pinch of salt to season while still warm; repeat the process until all onions are fried; once fried, finish them by sprinkling over them the chopped parsley and tossing it with the onions, and set aside to use as garnish for the soup.