I saw Lidia Bastianich make this soup on her public television show, Lidia's Italy, and made my own adaptation of it. I substituted Cannellini beans for barley, Yukon Gold for russet potatoes, and baby super greens instead of plain spinach. This is really good.
1 smoked ham shank
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups peeled, cubed Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (one large or two small)
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 pound split peas. rinsed
1 can Cannellini beans
sprig of fresh thyme
12 ounces mixed baby "super greens" (baby kale, spinach, etc.)
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Put the ham shank in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to remove some saltiness. Drain and rinse.
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the potatoes and cook until they start to carmelize and stick to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
- Add the leeks, carrots, and celery, and saute for a couple minutes. Add split peas, ham shank, and enough water to nearly fill the pot. Bring to a rapid simmer. Simmer, uncovered until the peas have broken down, about 45-60 minutes.
- Add the Cannellini beans and thyme sprig, and simmer another 30-45 minutes. The split peas will disintegrate and thicken the soup.
- Add the baby greens, corn, salt and pepper, and simmer 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the ham shank and pull the meat from the bones, trimming fat as you come across it. Discard fat and bones. Cube remaining meat and add to soup pot.