There are certain foods for all of us that trigger memories and good feelings and split pea soup is one of those for me. Granted, when I was a kid this was just a can of Campbell’s Soup but it was something I could make for myself. Nowadays, sadly, that can has some ingredients I’d rather avoid.
But the homemade recipe is super simple and it’s a very inexpensive way to feed a family in just a couple hours (and most of that is simmer time).
If you’re unfamiliar with split peas, they’re nothing more than regular peas that have been peeled, dried, and split into two halves. So if you like regular peas you will most likely like these. And they’re very inexpensive from the bulk section of the grocery. I bought two pounds of organic split peas at a local store for $2.29. That’s enough for two pots of soup and they keep in the pantry for a good long while.
And peas are high protein, high fiber, and low fat. What a great way to eat your vegetables, right?
Be aware, there are both green and yellow varieties. I usually just grab the green but you can mix the two half-and-half. If you use all yellow then your soup will not be green and for some reason I find that a little odd.
I usually think of making this soup when I have enough leftover ham from whatever other dish. I’m one of those people who just really likes ham and I’ll eat it with eggs in the morning or even make ham salad sandwiches. But there are others in the family who aren’t wild about ham those ways but they love this soup.
It probably goes without saying but try to get local and/or organic ingredients whenever possible. As for the ham, if not from your local butcher, try some Beeler’s (which I usually find in the freezer section at most of our local grocery stores) or other good quality ham. Please, avoid products with ingredients you don’t know and can’t pronounce!
My go-to pot for this is a 6 quart Lodge dutch oven but any soup pot should work fine as long as it’s big enough.
You can also vary this recipe a bit depending on what’s in the refrigerator or pantry.
- Some people like to dice a carrot or two into it.
- I’ve had it with some diced firm potatoes (add them in after the first hour or they’ll dissolve).
- If you have some fresh thyme, a few sprigs are nice.
- A bay leaf never hurts.
- Omit the ham, use vegetable stock, and it’s a super vegetarian dish.
- Opposite of that? Some people like to add a little bacon too :). If you do that, cook the onions and celery in the bacon fat and omit the butter.
The smell that fills your house while this cooks is better than any candle. (Okay, maybe the chocolate chip cookie one can give it a run, but other than that.)
Split Pea Soup
Split pea soup is made from simple ingredients in a couple hours and is so good even the kids like it. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced About 2-3 teaspoons.
- 6 oz ham, diced Typcial ham steak. About 1+1/2 cups diced.
- 1 pound split peas About 2 cups.
- 4 cups stock / broth Vegetable or chicken.
- 4 cups water
- salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the dried split peas in a colander or strainer and visually check for any foreign objects (like small stones or pods).
Dice the onions and celery beforehand. Then, add to a soup pot or dutch oven along with the butter and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to get translucent, about 5 minutes or so.
Add the garlic and cook for a couple minutes more stirring often enough to keep the garlic from burning.
Add the ham and cook for two to three minutes, enough to render off any small fat in the ham.
Finally, stir in the split peas, stock, and water. Do not season yet. Bring to boil and reduce to a gently bubbling simmer.
Cook for about an hour and a half, uncovered, stirring occasionally, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan if needed.
After the first hour and fifteen minutes, taste the soup. Add salt and pepper to your taste (mine is about 2 teaspoons of each).
You will know the soup is done when the peas still have a bit of texture and bite to them (like an al dente pasta) and the thickness of the soup is like a porridge or stew.
Serve with crackers or croutons if desired.
Refrigerate any leftover soup once cooled. The soup will continue to thicken a bit so add a bit of water when you reheat it.
So good. Just… so good. Look at that.
I hope you enjoy!
Originally published April 20, 2017.