I’ve been making a different soup each week over the past few weeks. Today it was split pea, one of my faves. Split pea soup is super-easy to make and it is delicious. Today I did it with just a slight twist.
When I was growing up, my mom would make split pea after we had a ham dinner. This is because she used the ham bone to add depth to the broth. I didn’t have a ham bone today, but when I stopped by Starsky’s this morning, I saw they had smoked pork ribs. I figured they would add the same kind of smokey goodness to the broth that mom’s ham bone did so I bought some. Some people will tell you that you don’t need any bones or meat to make a great split pea soup. Maybe that’s true, I don’t know. I do know that you need them if you want to create a soup that will evoke my childhood memories and all that entails.
Here’s how I made my split pea soup:
I chopped up an onion and sauteed it gently in my soup pot. While it sweated, I added salt, pepper and dry thyme leaves. I had some celery in the fridge. It was starting to lose its crispness but was still fine for soup, so I chopped it all up and added it to the onions. There is no need to chop things super-fine for this soup by the way. Coarsely chopped onions and celery are just fine. If you wanted to chop in a carrot or perhaps a red or green pepper, that would be fine too. Use what you have available.
I diced up a couple cloves of garlic and tossed them in as well. The thing with the garlic is you don’t want it to brown and burn and get all harsh on you, so I add mine once I judge the onions and celery are sauteed enough. For this soup I don’t caramelize the onions. I just gently cook them for 5 minutes or so with the celery then another minute with the garlic.
At that point I added some stock and some water for additional liquid. Then I rinsed about 3 cups of dried split peas and tossed them in. I can’t tell you a ratio of liquid to split peas, only that for a pot of soup in my soup pot, 3 cups is about right. This is about half a bag. I cut my strip of smoked ribs into a few pieces and added them in. All you really need is a piece, but I got a little carried away.
Once I got this concoction simmering slowly with a lid on, I let it be and went to play the banjo for a while. While it isn’t necessary to play banjo to make a good split pea soup, I recommend it. At some point, be sure to taste your soup to make sure the seasoning is right. By the way, don’t let anyone tell you split pea soup needs to be pureed or even partly pureed. In my world, the finished texture is just right without messing with it. I let my soup simmer for about 2 and a half hours and served it with some fresh ground pepper and plenty of crusty French bread.
It doesn’t get much better.