Thursday, December 9, 2010

Split Pea Soup

The other night a bunch of friends and I were tucking into some great sushi and started talking about Split Pea Soup.... now really, I have no idea why these topics are related, but we were all laughing about liking it so much.  Split Pea Soup is one of those things... people either LOVE it, or won't touch it with a ten foot pole... come to think of it, so is Sushi! I don't ever think I've ever used a recipe for Split Pea Soup, but my friend emailed me this morning, and asked me for my recipe.  Hmmmm, I had to think about it, so I set out to make some soup on a cold winter day and documented it out.

This is a very easy soup, but it does have to simmer quite a while, so it;s best to make it when you've got some time and you're puttering about the house. It makes quite a bit, more than enough for 4 dinner servings served with biscuits or cornbread and a "nice green salad". We've got a joke about a nice green salad in our family, I mean really, why would you serve a green salad that wasn't nice? It was just my Mom giving her salesmanship spin to the healthy part of the meal, now I do the same thing to my kids.  But, I digress...

If you have Vegetarians, or Vegans, at your house, just substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth or just water. Oh, yeah, and of course, skip the chopped ham too!

1 16oz. bag of dried split peas
2-3 carrots, diced
1 large onion, or 2 medium, diced
3-4 stalks of celery, diced (I prefer the 'inside' small ones with the leaves for this)
1 lb of chopped ham
1 32 oz. box of chicken broth
Water, as needed
Salt & Pepper
Chopped Parsley, optional

Dump the dried split peas into your soup pot, add about a quart of water and the 32 oz (1 quart!) of chicken stock. Dice and add the onions, carrots and celery.  Bring this to a boil and then reduce the soup to medium low and simmer.  Check on it every once and a while and add more water as needed.  The dried split peas will start to cook and swell absorbing the liquid. It took me about 2 hours to get this mixture cooked down to a richly textured soup and the peas completely cooked through and starting to breakdown.  Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to your taste. I found I needed to add about 2 tsp. of salt and LOTS of freshly ground pepper.

At this point, if you like your soup smooth, I would add to your blender and process until smooth.  It's a messy affair and has the potential of blowing your blenders top off when you blend hot liquid, so be careful! Better yet, get one of those handy dandy stick immersion blenders and do it right in the pot.  I used my immersion blender to just blend some of the soup and then added the diced ham.  I also added some chopped parsley at the last minute, because personally, I think that split pea soup is about the ugliest thing around... hence the photo of the finished soup at the END of this recipe!!!  But it tastes good, and it's good for you too!

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