Split Pea Soup, I Think I Love You
February 3, 2008
I accidentally fell in love with split pea soup recently. Let me explain. One of my favorite pastimes is wandering around the little market a couple blocks from our house. Every time I’m there, I discover something else that I’d never noticed before. For instance, yesterday I found an extremely impressive array of pickles (not just cucumbers, but all manner of pickles) tucked away in a small corner. I’ve been to that nook of the store dozens of times, but there is so much to look at it, the pickles somehow alluded me.
While I could go on and on about my love for this little market, I’ll get back to the split pea soup now. Like the pickles, I somehow failed to notice that the market offered up several homemade soups every day. Perhaps it’s the weather that’s called such a thing to my attention. But the other day, the handwritten sign listing the soups of the day suddenly called out to me. And among the offerings, split pea soup inexplicably beckoned.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
As a kid, I had a great disdain for peas. So there was no way I’d choke down a bowl of soup loaded with the things. And, even though I love peas now, I’ve never seen a reason to give split pea soup a try. So, I’m not sure what made me order it. But, whoa, am I glad I did. The version from Olivia’s was smoky, velvety and comforting. A revelation, really. I knew I had to find a recipe of my own.
Many of the recipes I found called for obscure ham ingredients (I just can’t picture myself asking the butcher for hocks, for instance) and lavish amounts of butter or oil. So, because I like to keep my soups a bit on the lighter side, I headed to Cooking Light, where I’ve had a lot of success with soup recipes. And this one is very good. The additions of rosemary, smoked paprika, soy sauce (!) and tomato paste gave the soup a boost of flavor. And leaving the soup semi-chunky (by using an immersion blender) elicited the exact texture I was seeking. In a final tweak, I added diced and sautéed chicken andouille sausage (larger rounds graced the tops for garnish, as you can see). It wasn’t quite as good as the Olivia’s version, so I might keep an eye out for other (hock-free) recipes. But for now, I’m satisfied.
Rosemary Split Pea Soup
1 1/2 cups green split peas
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced garlic cloves, divided (about 3 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, divided
1 teaspoon paprika*
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
4 cups water
2 cups Vegetable Stock or 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth**
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream***
2 links smoked chicken andouille sausage, diced and sautéed****
Sort and wash peas; cover with water to 2 inches above peas and set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and bay leaf; saute 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 teaspoons garlic, 1 teaspoon rosemary, paprika, and pepper; cook 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and soy sauce; cook until liquid evaporates, scraping to loosed browned bits.
Drain peas. Add peas, 4 cups water, Vegetable Stock, and salt to onion mixtures; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 hour, stirring often. Discard bay leaf. Place half of soup in blender or food processor; process until smooth. Pour pureed soup into bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining soup. Combine 1 teaspoon oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, 2 teaspoons rosemary, and parsley. Stir parsley mixture into soup. **** Spoon soup into bowls; top each with sour cream.
* I used smoked paprika.
** I used chicken stock.
*** I liked Greek yogurt better than sour cream. But, actually, I liked it best without either.
**** This is my addition to the recipe. I added these in at the end, along with the rosemary-parsley paste.