Split pea soup is considered a hearty, stick to your ribs meal, chez Chuck. I was in the mood for it the other day and didn’t fancy that kind of heaviness during a heat wave.
So instead, the recipe has been transformed to something that keeps the multi-flavors and nutrition while tasting light and fresh!
Dried yellow split peas (tastes the same as green but looks nicer and fresher)
Smoked ham hock (or bacon)
Butcher’s sausage (Bratwurst or Octoberfest)
Pepper to taste
Any one of the following: rosemary, marjoram, basil or oregano
A great addition to this soup before serving:
During pea season, buy as many pea pods as you are willing to shuck (or you can get the slave children to shuck) and add them to the soup pot just before serving. If you have canned peas in the house it does make me wonder: why?????? It’s true they will survive the nuclear winter, but they also have the attribute of tasting as if they had right now!
Frozen peas, while innocuous, have so little flavor they would be completely useless for this soup.
Overall cooking time:
The peas should simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours (it could take two hours or a bit more). Peas should be mushy when ready.
- Ignore all the package instructions on the dried peas about pre-soaking or whatever.
- Add 4-5 cups of split peas to a big pot of chicken stock (15 cups or so). Good bouillon cubes work very well for this – use about half the amount of cubes that are recommended on the package for the volume of water.
- Bring split peas to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
- When the peas are first at a simmer throw in a smoked ham hock – if you don’t have a ham hock, continue on with the recipe and read step 7 for bacon replacement instructions.
- Add 3-4 good butcher’s sausages to the stock – Farmers, Bratwurst or Octoberfest. Do not use any strongly spiced sausage like Chorizo or Italian since they will overwhelm the soup.
- Now add pepper to taste (just a bit as this is not a soup that wants to taste like pepper) and add one, and only one, of your favorite dried herbs from this list: Rosemary, Marjoram, Basil, Oregano. My favorite by far for this soup is Rosemary. If you pick Oregano, don’t use much. Lastly, NO SALT – the bouillon cubes have plenty and eaters can add as needed at the table.
- Pan fry 3 or 4 sweet onions and half dozen smaller fresh carrots in bite size pieces. Just so there is no confusion, fresh means it doesn’t come out of any kind of plastic wrapping. The orange things inside plastic have less flavor than the plastic, and what there is is just nasty. Note: if you don’t have a ham hock, just sauté the onions and carrots as described here in a few slices of good non-packaged bacon (the rant about packaged carrots also applies to bacon) and remove the bacon as soon as it has rendered all its fat. Put the bacon aside for later use.
- While the peas are simmering, rough chop approximately 6 Portobello mushrooms (use NON-packaged white if that’s all you can get, but you will need more volume of these than Portobello since the flavor is weaker). Sautee the mushrooms in butter until all the water is gone and put aside. No, butter is not evil – it is a mushroom’s soul mate.
- About an hour into simmer, remove the ham hock (if you’re using one) OR add the original bacon chopped up.
- Remove the sausage.
- Once cool, strip all the ham from the bone and chop small (discard the inedible loose rind) and chop the sausage into very small bites. Put aside for later use.
- Once peas are very soft and mushy (practically disintegrating), combine all the peas plus half the liquid with the onions and carrots in a second large pot. You should have the texture of a thick traditional soup – just add more of the cooking stock if needed. Add the meat and the mushrooms.
- See above re: fresh peas and add them to the soup. You are ready to eat.
- Let people add salt to taste, but don’t allow more more pepper. This soup doesn’t want to kick you in the teeth. It wants to woo you with it’s light multi-level flavors, and it will.
At risk of immodesty (what are the odds?) best new summer meal chez Chuck ever.