Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.
I know that rhyme doesn’t make split pea soup sound very nourishing, but it runs a close second to lentils as my favorite new food find. I know for some the greyish-green color is more fitting for trendy glass tiles than soup, but the smooth, slightly sweet taste more than makes up for the odd tint and hue.
Just as with all tried and true soup ingredients, peas (Pitsum sativum) are old – apparently pea soup was sold by street vendors in ancient Greece. (Right now I’m envisioning Costanzo pushing a soup cart through the agora, dishing up bowls of hot green porridge with a side of souvlaki.)
What I didn’t know until I did a little research for this article was how the peas came to be split in the first place. I imagined gangs of Greek women having pea parties where they sat around in huge circles with tiny little knives cutting peas in half, drinking ouzo and gossiping about the Andronikos. Opa!
Nothing could be farther from the truth. (Actually, quite a few things could be farther from the truth, including the assertion that rap music is actually a viable musical form and that no one can tell the difference between real and fake Louis Vuitton luggage. But I digress…) Peas actually have a natural split and, once they are harvested and dried, can be separated mechanically. (Thank you, Wikipedia). No gossiping or sharp implements required.
Split pea soup is high in fiber and protein and cooks up into the kind of comfort food that makes you wish you were sick so you could just lay around and enjoy slurping it without guilt.
Here’s my recipe:
Split Pea Soup
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1 lb. of dried split peas
- 1 med. finely chopped onion
- 2 or 3 carrots, diced
- 48 oz. chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 c. (or so) finely diced turkey ham
- 2 t. kosher salt
- ½ t. ground pepper
- 1 packet of dried ham seasoning
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the onion and carrot and sauté until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes.
Add the broth, peas, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Loosely cover and boil for 30 minutes. Add the packet of ham seasoning and the turkey ham. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The peas will naturally cook down to a smooth consistency. (You can purée them with a stick blender if you want it to be smoother.)
- Feel free to pump up the volume on the turkey ham (according to your taste) or use real ham (according to your nutritional inclinations).
- Split pea soup is fairly thick, but if it seems to be cooking down too much just add water or more broth. You’re looking for a consistency similar to canned tomato soup. (Or at least the way I prepare it, without too much extra liquid.)
- I find that the soup tends to cook down to a smooth texture so that puréeing it isn’t necessary. But feel free to pulverize away.
So let’s dish up a bowl of green and gooey goodness, sing “Kum Ba Yah,” and visualize whirled peas.