Split Pea Soup

So a lot of people have been asking me to share the recipe for the Split Pea Soup I posted to Instagram last week. It was the first home-cooked meal that I made in our new house here in Chile- aside from scrambled eggs, but that hardly counts. Our house was barely furnished and we were still using camping pots and pans until we could find the real ones.

I had run to the grocery the day before to pick up staples and explore the store and perhaps because it was winter back in the US, I wound up back home with a bag of dried guisantes partidos – or, split peas.

So even though it was eighty-something degrees here in Santiago, we had soup. And, my was it delicious! I always say that a good soup is best with crusty bread and butter, but a really good soup can be eaten by its lonesome. This was just such a soup. Hearty and filling, with enough complexity of flavor that one bite is never enough, here follows the recipe for my Housewarming Split Pea Soup.

Let’s begin with The Ingredients:

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4 cups split peas Soak overnight for best results.
2 glugs olive oil, extra virgin As when feeding dragons, virgin works best. Oh, okay, okay, picture a glug as being representative of  a simple tablespoon. Only glug sounds cooler.
8 ounce pork, fatty bone in To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what cut I purchased. I know that is really bad form but I’m still new to Spanish meat cuts. I simply asked the butcher for a cut of “cerdo con grasa y hueso” or a cut of pork with fat and bone. Having performed a little online research, what I had looks a lot like pork shoulder chop. For sizing reference, 4 ounces is comparable to a deck of cards.
1 medium yellow onion About 1 1/2 cups, diced
1 teaspoon salt You may be tempted to add more at this point. Don’t. You’ll be adding boullion later and if using store-bought, it is often salty enough.
1 medium zucchini About 2 cups, peeled and diced
1 cube pork rib bouillon If you have your own homemade variety, you deserve kudos. Way to go! Obviously substitute your liquid stock for the water in the recipe below.
3 full bay leaves Don’t skimp here. No scroungy bits of broken leaves and bay spines please. Full georgeous leaves work best. Obviously.
2 teaspoons smoked paprika Be not afraid of this brilliant red spice. It’s not spicy, rather it’s smoky – just like the name says.
1 teaspoon dill weed Just because you don’t like pickles with your peas doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try this herb in your soup. Please do. I promise you the results will surprise and delight.

And onto The Method:

First, if you are using dried peas, be sure to soak them overnight. If you don’t have all night, a few hours is better than nothing, but keep in mind that this may increase your cook time. The next day, or whenever you’ve decided you’ve had enough soaking (this bit is a joke), give yourself about 45 minutes to prep and cook this soup.

Brown your cut of ham in a deep pot on medium high heat. The ham I used was fatty and had bone-in. The fat gave the soup some juice for starters – to use with the onion in the next step – and the bone deepened the flavor of the soup stock during cooking.

I took out the ham and sautéed one diced yellow onion in same pot with an added glug of olive oil until they were just on the verge of turning transparent. Then I added about four cups of split peas and about one teaspoon of salt. I tossed the split peas and another glug of olive oil for about three minutes.

To give the soup a fuller flavor, I usually add an assortment of veggies. My favorites to use are carrots, celery, and cabbage. (In these amounts, if you’re curious: 1 cup diced, 1/2 cup diced small, 1/2 cup minced.) Alas, I had none of these. But I did have a nice green zucchini. So, what the heck…in went the zucchini. I stirred in the zucchini and tossed the contents of the pot a bit for three minutes. Please don’t go Amelia Bedelia on me and toss the pot into the air. I won’t feel sorry for you if you find yourself scrubbing green splotches off the ceiling.

Afterwards, I poured in enough hot water from my kettle to cover the peas with about an inch or so of water on top. Usually I use homemade stock but I didn’t have any on hand yet so I resorted to a dry cube of costilla – pork rib – bullion. I broke up the cube over the soup and stirred it in. Tucking the cut of ham on top, I slipped in three large bay leaves, sprinkled two teaspoons of smoked paprika and a teaspoon of dill weed and brought the soup to a boil.

pea-soup

For the next twenty minutes or so, I stirred and added hot water and salt as necessary to get the right consistency and flavor as the peas cooked. You want enough liquid to make the split peas thickly”stirrable” but not alone and adrift in an ocean of stock. I knew the soup was done when the peas were quite soft but not utter mush. Before serving, I pulled out the ham and shredded the meat, swirling it back into the soup and leaving out the fat and bone. Then, we dug in!

Please purleese let me know if you try this recipe. I would love to see how others feel about this, my favorite of soups for an 80-degree day in Chile. Just joking again. Really, I’m channeling the Northern Hemisphere here.

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2 thoughts on “Split Pea Soup

  1. Yum, my absolute favourite soup to make. I’ve never tried with zucchini but usually add carrot and celery when I make it. I use a smoked ham hock, the flavour it amazing. I can’t wait for the weather to cool down (it’s summer here in Perth) so I can try your recipe out.

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