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What would be a good, smoky tasting vegetarian substitute for ham hocks in split pea soup?

  • j

Would like to try the slow cooker recipe here on the site, but how to make it vegetarian by not using a ham hock? Liquid smoke?

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  1. I wonder if one could smoke miso they way one does cheese? Liquid Smoke is so full of chemicals that health-wise I'd bet you're probably better off using the meat.

    but then again baco-bits have no real meat in them and neither does bacon salt or Andy Capp's bacon fries.

    8 Replies
    1. re: hill food

      The ingredient label on Liquid Smoke: water, natural Mesquite smoke flavor, vinegar, molasses, caramel color, natural flavoring.
      All natural, vegan.
      Not sure where you get the idea that it "is so full of chemicals..."

      1. re: wyogal

        I dunno anytime the words 'natural flavoring' (what does that mean? all sorts of bad stuff is natural) is used my spidey sense tingles. I want to control what goes in so maybe I'm ocd, it just sounds wrong to try to get good smoke flavor out of a bottle. there I said it. I have a distinct and intractable prejudice. but I believe it is no safer than physically smoking the stuff with real wood. but that's fodder for elsewhere.


        1. re: hill food

          I saw a program on how they make liquid smoke. Believe it or not, it IS made from real smoke over real wood. I am a recent convert to the stuff since then. And yes, no safer. But, it is the real deal.

          1. re: wyogal

            I hear tell that Wrights is the brand that tastes most authentic.

            1. re: coll

              I've been using Wright's for YEARS. Just don't use a heavy hand.

            2. re: wyogal

              +1 on the liquid smoke. I'm really obnoxious when it comes to what's truly "natural," and even I eat the stuff. Plus a quick web search will show you that it is in fact less hazardous than smoking your food.

        2. re: hill food

          I purchased a cheap soldering iron I use only for smoking cheese, fish, and small pieces of meat and sausage. Put food on a grate, place your iron and favorite wood chips in a small metal container, plug it in, cover with a cardboard box and wait till the smoke subsides. .... and I think the words "natural flavors" sounds more appetizing than ..."we get a piece of charred wood and pour water over it" or "you are eating ashes"

          1. re: hill food

            Actually Hill Food, I can tell you how they make it easily. The wood is set to a smoking smolder in one chamber connected by tubing to a chamber. That chamber is purified or distilled water. The smoke enters that in the lower part of the chamber, filters through the water, and exits through a chimney at the top of the chamber of liquid. The smoke flavor remains in the water, and that is Liquid Smoke. The term Natural Ingredients simply means that man didn't make the water, and he didn't make the wood burnt to create this incredible flavor. I think your "spidey sense" is leading you astray on this one in every possible way known to man.

          2. I've used smoked mozzarella in Hoppin' John as substitute for bacon.

            Don't know if you do dairy. Wonder if the texture would work in your soup...

              1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                I second the smoked sea salt. It's awesome and really imparts a depth without tasting artificial.

                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                  Yep, smoked salt is the answer. Spanish pimenton adds smokiness as well, but brings other flavors with it.

                  1. re: MGZ

                    Pimenton add a slightly meaty flavor, at least to my palate, that I think works well in recipes like this. It's my typical sub when I don't want to use smoked meat in a recipe.

                    1. re: JungMann

                      That's exactly the point. Pimenton, or paprika, is a common response to these inquiries (see below) and a good choice. On the other hand, only the smoked salt is (other than the smoke) flavor neutral. I find each is good to have around and to know how to use.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        So... if one wants to combine a green pea and a red paprika spice....
                        Red and green do make 'brown' usually. (Yes, I realize this is not a painting class :-))

                      2. re: JungMann

                        pimenton is awesome stuff, but to a new user I would say a little can go a mighty long way. go slow.

                  2. Lapsang souchong tea works great! Put some in an infuser or cheese cloth and drop it in the pot. Or add as a brewed liquid.

                      1. You can try canned chipotles en adobo. They are spicy, but you can always stir it into the finished soup to taste for a smoky finish!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: christinegallary

                          Or for less heat but good flavor, consider anchos (smoked poblanos).

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Anchos are dried poblanos, but not smoke dried (at least not normally).

                        2. Good quality smoked paprika is simply incredible for things like this. I get it from these people: http://www.sawmillcreekfarms.com/Spic...
                          It is so fantastic.

                          1 Reply
                          1. If you have a Weber or a Smoker (not likely if you are a vegetarian) you can smoke onions.
                            Cut into 6ths smoke for a hour or so. They add a good strong smoke flavor to what ever you put them in.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: escargot3

                                +1, must try and make some smoked onions....

                                I can think of all KINDS of ways to use these:)

                                in a mustard viniagrette

                                part of an antipasto

                                in sweet potato salad

                                in veggie & squash lasagna

                                part of onions

                                in French Onion soup (perhaps too much?)

                                As an accompiniament to a cold rare roast of beef, with a balsamic dressing on the onions, and horsey sauce on the side. Roasted/grilled asparagus.

                                Wow. My imagination is poppin'! Sorry, Off Topic...

                            1. Chipotle pepper powder or smoked Spanish paprika. I use these all the time when I'm making smoky vegetarian anything.

                              1. Another vote for smoked paprika. Wonderful stuff.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: debbiel

                                  Deborah Madison's split pea soup recipe calls for smoked paprika and it really is amazing.

                                  1. re: debbiel

                                    i use smoked paprika for a lot of dishes -- especially fun with roasted garbanzo beans.

                                    1. re: escargot3

                                      Yes escargot3! I love that use too. And sprinkled on popcorn. And mixed with yogurt for a veggie dip. And used when I cook greens. And in lots of bean dishes. And a local cheese maker has a wonderful soft ripened goat cheese dusted in it that is fantastic. And...

                                    1. re: jill kibler

                                      I second the smoked tofu suggestion - especially as a sub for pork.

                                    2. I once used sesame oil for this purpose when cooking for a vegan - it gave it an almost bacony taste. I was pleasantly surprised.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Judging from the pot of split pea soup I'm just finishing - YES. Didn't use have ham hock ( or liquid smoke) so used about 6 slices of bacon. Browned it, softened the veggies in the bacon fat and added broken up bacon a few hours before it was done. Smelled great while cooking, but not nearly bacony/smoky enough - So have spent the week playing with spices to enhance flavor - It's a shame, texture and split-peainess was lovely. It just needs smoke - (No, didn't increase the bacon/bacon fat, if I'm gonna kill myself I'd rather have the bacon straight up and crunchy-)

                                        2. Maybe vegemite? I've never eaten it, but I do know that it's very earthy and savory. Might give the soup that oomph.

                                          1. Try smoked salt, maybe the one from Shagbark syrup people in Indiana. A few grains for finishing salt work fine for me.

                                            1. I agree with the lapsang souchon rec. I grind the tea leaves and then sift the powder and repeat grinding and sifting until I have enough for a spice jar with sprinkle cap. I use it on ribs and steaks for a smoky flavor without going outside to grill. The suggestion for this came from Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: magnolia

                                                I go with Spanish smoked sweet paprika if I want to achieve a smoky flavor. In small amounts the paprika flavor doesn't really intrude with anything and the smokiness is just right. In the past I've also used Liquid Smoke with success.

                                              2. Have not tried it but there's a line of products called bacon salt, which are vegetarian.
                                                Would love to hear feedback about these salts.
                                                I have used liquid smoke with good results, but you need to be careful not to use too much.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mrsdebdav

                                                  I've never used the salts but I really enjoy Baconnaise. My go-to smoked salt is Maldon.

                                                2. I smoke Roma tomatoes in my stovetop smoker. They add a wonderful smokiness to many dishes.

                                                  1. I really like curry powder in split pea soup when I don't have a ham hock on hand. I don't know if 'smoky' is the definitive effect, but I can say that it definitely satisfies the meaty element for me.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: tokyo

                                                      That sounds good, I'll have to try it. I also have red lentils on hand.

                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                        It was a vegetarian who gave me the idea. I use 1 tablespoon or less of sweet or maharaja curry per pound of split peas.

                                                    2. I agree with the many who've suggested smoked paprika (a good quality one). Or a very small amount of Wright's- I use an eyedropper.

                                                      Have been meaning to try bacon salt one of these days; it's good to know that it's meatless, for the sake of a few vegetarians in the family. I'd wondered about that.

                                                      1. It's been a while since you asked your question. Sorry about responding so late. If I wanted to simulate the flavor, I would make the pea soup first. Then I would lightly fry a few Boca Burgers (vegetarian hamburger simulations with a nice smoky flavor) and dice them into chunks and add them shortly before serving. Their flavor will spread easily. I'm just not sure what sitting in the soup for a long time would do to their texture. In my experience, I think this will be a pretty good approximation of what you want. It's not ham, but it's good and it's vegetarian. Enjoy!

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                          Try whole back cardamom seed pods in long cooking dishes, available from Penzeys. I use them in soups and beans. Count how many pods you add so you can retrieve them all before serving (okay if you miss one, they're just not a good texture to chomp on). Really good smokey flavor! For a quick smokey jolt, JD's Bacon Salt or other smoked salt (I use Maldon smoked salt as a finishing salt). JD's also makes Baconnaise, which I find rather salty, but on a BLT without the B...mmm! And try it with peanut butter! JD's products are kosher, too (the mayo is dairy) which is a big plus since I keep kosher, though for some years I didn't so I know what flavor depth these substitutes are supposed to emulate. If you aren't kosher, slather chicken with before baking or grilling. if you are kosher, try home-smoking kosher turkey wings in a wok with hickory or mesquite chips to add to beans or soup. Years ago there was a smoked yeast product called Bac'n Yeast (by Sovex) which was fantastic, but like so many other fantastic things, it's no longer available. If nothing else, though, do try the black cardamom, 6-8 pods to the pot; you'll very pleasantly surprised. (By the way, the term "natural flavoring" is the new way to say MSG, which is, after all, a natural product.)

                                                          1. re: dereuff

                                                            I never tried the sovex brand, so I don't know how they compare, but yesterday I found a smoked torula yeast called Bakon at my local Walmart. It was in the section with the canned vegetarian meat products. I know that not every Walmart has this section, so I'm not sure how widely available it is. The manufacturers website is www.ohly.com.

                                                            I was intrigued by it, but I am not really sure how to use it as far as amounts, applications and when to add it during cooking. I am fairly new to vegetarian cooking. What were your favorite ways to use the smoked yeast? Any tips would be great.

                                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                                            Does anyone remember TVP (texturized vegetable protein), made from soybeans? You may be able to find "ham" flavor chunks, and they still make "chicken", "beef" and "bacon" flavored TVP somewhere (Think "BacOs"). There is even a "Taco" TVP that my confirmed beef eating man can't tell from hamburger in tacos or nachos.
                                                            All of the TVP products are meant to go in long-cooking foods, even tho' the taco TVP is ready in 10 minutes (finer grind, maybe?).
                                                            Another "smokey" flavor comes from nutritional Torula Yeast (not for baking!). It may be a by-product of the rum making industry? Delicious!

                                                            1. re: ginger71

                                                              Problem with TVP is that virtually all soy products in the US are now made from genetically manipulated frankensoy. This is not true of European products, though- their regulatory agencies are not industry controlled & as far as I know GM ingredients are still banned there.

                                                          3. Smoked tofu available in asian markets has a nice firm texture, can be shredded or diced and can add lots of smokey flavor.

                                                            1. I'm putting my vote it for smoked paprika. I also use chipotle in adobo when a recipe calls for smokiness and could use some heat. It's not bacon but it tastes fine.

                                                              1. I've used liquid smoke, ancho powder, guajillo powder, paprika, and, in the appropriate recipes, I add a spoonful of baconnaise to the base of a soup or stew that would have had the slight oiliness and salty edge of added pork products.

                                                                1. That's what I'd do, but the tiniest splash ever. I mean, start with a half tsp., taste and take it from there.

                                                                  1. a drop of liquid smoke and some sweet potato!

                                                                    i like the smoked tofu idea a lot, but i've never had smoked tofu. i'm not sure how your texture would hold up in that instance.

                                                                    1. Thanks, all. I used the slow cooker recipe from chow.com, then I added a very tiny amount of liquid smoke, and a big handful of Bacos. They're vegetarian, and in the slow cooking process they ended up getting chewy and soft and almost meat-like. Thanks again for the suggestions!

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jenry

                                                                        So glad it worked out! Yum split pea soup!! Oh, on a cold day there is just nothing like it. I like mine with a big piece of buttery cornbread that has jalapenos and corn in it....and a Pepsi, everyone's favorite cold-weather beverage.

                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                          but then it's not like we actually HAVE cold weather anymore in most of the US