How to Add Meat-Free Smokiness

It's traditional to toss a smoked ham hock, the meaty bone from a baked holiday ham, or another smoked meat into bean or split pea soups and other long-cooked legume dishes. If you'd prefer to skip the meat, there are a number of vegetarian alternatives that impart a similar smoky flavor and depth to a dish.

A number of hounds are partial to smoked paprika. "It's my typical sub when I don't want to use smoked meat in a recipe," says JungMann, who thinks it adds "a slightly meaty flavor." A little of it "can go a mighty long way," so don't dump it in, hill food warns. If you'd prefer a more neutral addition, try smoked sea salt, which "really imparts a depth without tasting artificial," ghostpeppergirl says.

Lapsang souchong tea, which is smoke-dried, works great, meatn3 says. She recommends dropping an infuser or cheesecloth bag filled with tea leaves into the cooking pot, or adding brewed tea, while magnolia grinds the leaves into powder, sifts it, and sprinkles it straight into foods.

If you have the equipment, you can also home-smoke vegetables to use as a meat alternative. chefj cuts onions into sixths and smokes them for about an hour. "They add a good strong smoke flavor to whatever you put them in," he says. pikawicca smokes Roma tomatoes for a similar effect.

While it's not a smoked product, sweet curry powder is a favorite of tokyo's for adding to split pea soup when forgoing a ham hock. "I can say that it definitely satisfies the meaty element for me," tokyo says.

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