Thursday, March 7, 2013

Split Pea Soup

It would appear I've been in a soup mood lately.  Out weather has been cold, wet and dreary so soup is a welcome respite from what's going on outside.
Split Pea soup is another easy and fast soup to make.  Unlike most dried beans split peas need no soaking and no long cooking time.  I make this soup from start to finish in 2 hours, but if you're in a hurry you can crank the heat and finish it in about 1 hour.
When you reheat the soup it will likely need some extra water or stock to bring it back to your desired consistency.  This would also be a great soup for the freezer, but it comes together so quickly I've never felt the need to freeze it.
You could also elevate the presentation of this soup by topping it with homemade croutons, grated Parmesan or crispy ham.

1 lb split peas
2 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup ham or 1 ham hock
6 cups ham stock, chicken stock or water
salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
lemon wedge (optional)

In a large, heavy bottomed soup pot, or enameled cast iron pot heat the oil over medium heat.  I use an enameled cast iron pot for most soups; it holds in the heat and cooks very evenly.
Saute' the onion, celery, carrot and thyme until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add in the peas, bay, ham and liquid of choice.  I had made boiled ham and potatoes for dinner the night before, so I had some great ham stock leftover.  Chicken stock is a great choice for this though, but water is sufficient in a pinch.

Bring the soup to a boil, then back the heat down to medium low, cover, and let the soup simmer for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes check the soup, give it a stir and taste.  Season the soup to taste.  If the soup has absorbed all the liquid add some more.  I sometimes use up to 8 cups of liquid for this soup, water is sufficient for the extra 2 cups though.
Cook the soup for an additional 15 minutes.  Add the frozen peas and allow to cook 10 minutes.  If you like you can omit the frozen peas, but I like the color, texture and freshness they add.
Once the peas are warmed through you have 2 choice.  To blend or not to blend that is the question.
If you like a more rustic, chunky texture take it to the table.  I like a smoother consistency so I blend half the soup.  It is entirely up to you.  If you're in a rush I wouldn't bother.
Serve this in big bowls and enjoy with crusty bread or a warm biscuit.  I like a small squeeze of lemon over the top.  It sounds a little crazy, but it adds a wonderful tangy, bright freshness that I find very satisfying.
I wish I had a photo of the finished product to share with you, but, as with most good food in our house, my husband started devouring it before I had a chance!

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