Split Pea Soup

I’ve been absent all week … too sick to even get online. That’s pretty sick, huh? My first doctor said it was pneumonia and my second said it was bronchitis. Whatever. All I know is that it’s been a long week of sitting around in my jammies memorizing the line-up on PBS’s “Create” channel. I like to refer to it as “the poor woman’s Food Network.” We live way too far in the woods to get cable, and because of all the trees to our south, we have been informed by three companies that we can’t pick up a satellite feed, so we’re left with whatever TV we get with the antenna Dave attacked to the pole in our front yard. Hence … PBS. But I’m not complaining. I actually really, really like the shows on Create. And after this week, I could recite their schedules to you by heart. So if you need that … you know. I’m here for ya.

I had almost no energy this week, which meant I did zero cooking. I went in the kitchen once or twice with the intention of breaking some eggs or pushing a spoon around a pot a bit, but everyone kept pushing me back to the couch. They’re so germ-phobic thoughtful. So this was a week for pizza and leftovers.

Fortunately, I had made some split pea soup before the mysterious nasty hit me. There’s almost nothing more comforting than split pea soup … don’t you think?

You probably make your own. But just in case you don’t, and you want to, here’s what you do:

Split Pea Soup

  • 3 cups dried split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 12 cups liquid: water, chicken broth, a combo of both … or leftover juice from making a ham (the very best, as long as you didn’t put a sweet glaze on the ham)
  • 3 or 4 carrots, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 to 1 onion, cut into small pieces
  • garlic–3 to 4 cloves, minced fine, or 4 frozen cubes of roasted garlic (Trader Joe’s)
  • cumin–about 1 TBSP
  • ham, bacon ends, ham hock or salt pork (I like ham hock the best)

The first thing you want to do is to saute your chopped onion in a little bacon grease (if you have it … I keep some in my Grandpa’s coffee mug in the fridge) or olive oil. Cook them until they start to get brown and delightful.

If you used olive oil, you can use a slotted spoon to remove your onions from the frying pan and put them in your soup pot (I use my Grandma’s Dutch Oven). But if you used bacon grease, you want every molecule of that in your split pea soup. I don’t know what it is about bacon grease, but I can’t bring myself to pour any of it down the sink. It’s just way too magical.

After checking over your split peas to eliminate any small pebbles or dirt blobs, wash the peas and put them in a large pot right on top of the onions.

Cover the split peas with about 12 cups of liquid. If I haven’t just made a ham and saved the juices (except for ham which has been glazed … the liquid is too sweet), I just add water.

Chop your carrots and add the pot, along with your seasonings. On top of all, nestle down a big hunk of ham hock, some salt pork, some bacon ends, or leftover ham. Today I had leftover ham.

Just chop what you have in bite-sized pieces and throw it in the pot.

That’s pretty much the end of the story. Put the lid on the pot, cook, stir, make sure you aren’t out of water (add as necessary), taste for more seasonings, and when everything is just perfect (a good 3 or 4 hours later), ladle into bowls and serve with crusty French bread.

Let the comfort begin! 🙂


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