Split Pea soup is ugly. No way around it. It looks like a bowl full of green mush and the occasional chunks of ham/bacon or carrots really don’t help it’s visual appeal. That’s probably why growing up I thought I hated it. I can remember my mom making it at home or ordering it at restaurant and thinking that it had to be the grossest food ever. Something that looks like…. that, can’t be good. Well folks, I’m here to tell you, I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Split Pea soup is delicious, filling, warm, cozy, and everything else you want in a good fall meal.
To some people, this particular recipe may appear to be missing an important ingredient, ham hock. I can assure you that even without the ham hock this soup is great. The bacon helps to add some of that familiar flavor but helps save you a few grams of fat/calories (when was the last time you thought of bacon as a calorie saver?).
The only other important note for this recipe is to remember to account for the time needed to fully soften/cook the split peas. A lot of soups can be prepared and eaten right away but this recipe requires at least 30 minutes to cook the peas.
Split Pea Soup
6 slices center cut bacon, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups dry split peas, rinsed
1 32-ounce carton low-sodium chicken broth
Water, as needed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Cubed ham (optional)
In a large pot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon, drain on paper towels and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pot.
Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, or until vegetables become soft. Add the split peas, broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Add more water as needed to completely cover the peas. Bring to a boil then add half of the bacon back to the pot. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer until peas are soft, about 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaves and transfer the soup in batches to a food processor or blender and puree to desired consistency. If you have an immersion blender, you can do the pureeing in the pot.
Crumble the reserved bacon over each serving of soup. I recommend serving with a grilled cheese sandwich, smoked Gouda cheese really compliments this soup!
Source: The Ski House Cookbook