Monday, October 25, 2010

Don't Knock It 'Till You Try It! - In Defense of the Perfect Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup. Wah-wah. Not the most exciting meal, I know. But give it a try! Probably the only thing many people like about a traditional pea soup are the bits of ham or bacon, so that puts a vegan split pea soup even further behind. But stick with me please, because what follows is perhaps the easiest, healthiest, most delicious, most perfect meal ever. Pretty high praise, eh?

For some reason J has always loved split pea soup. The first time he mentioned this to me (probably about 5 years ago) I responded the way you are probably responding right now. "Pea soup? Um, I didn't know anyone not in a nursing home really ate that stuff. Is that made with actual peas? What is a so called 'split' pea? Don't you need a ham bone or something?" I was not impressed and decided to ignore his menu suggestion. Unfortunately for me, the pea soup idea did not end there.

New topic: When J and his brother get together, they have a tendency to remember parts of their childhood together by frequently quoting little bits of movies they used to enjoy in elementary school. They derive great pleasure from this activity. One such movie, The Rescuers Down Under, includes a brief segment about pea soup. Not only is this clip undeniably adorable, but J's impression of it is undeniably awesome. After a quick You Tube search, I was able to find a clip for you all to enjoy. Also enjoy the amazing quality of the videography.

Okay, so obviously I eventually (as in a few months ago) finally got around to making a split pea soup. I was bored and figured I should just give it a try. I, as usual, looked at as many recipes as I could find and put them all together to create a recipe that sounded good as well as vegan. The result is below:

2 cups dry split peas (As I quickly found out, a split pea is kind of like a lentil or bean)
7 cups low vegetable stock
1 yellow onion, diced
3 yukon gold potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Rinse the split peas and check for stones. (Apparently sometimes they like to include stones in with bags of split peas). Now comes the good part: place ALL ingredients in a soup pot and simmer loosely covered for about an hour and 15 minutes until peas are tender. I LOVE recipes that include the words "place all ingredients in a pot." Score. After simmering, blend the soup in a food processor. This may take two batches, or you can use an immersion blender. I like my soup thick and hearty...not too smooth, but not too chunky. You can decide how you like it.

To say I was blown away by this soup is an understatement. I could eat it all day and all night. It is the perfect lunch, the perfect dinner and even the perfect snack when you have the late night munchies. This soup is amazing. The morning after I made this soup for the first time, I emailed my entire immediate family and begged them to make it. I BEGGED them. I still don't think any of them have actually made it yet. Family members reading - please feel guilty now. You need to try this! I know you don't want to. You think pea soup is gross and looks like throw-up. The recipe does not sound exciting. I know! But try it anyway. Just try it. You will love it.

I loved it so much I forgot to take a picture of the finished product before we ate it. All of it.


  1. So, I totally saw this movie back in junior high or high school, in the tiny theatre in town, with my friend Jen. Soooo cute!
    And now I will make split pea soup later this week, and not be afraid of it any more. I may add some turkey bacon to mine. ;)

  2. So - liquid smoke may be a popular term where you come from but I'm lost. Is it something like lapsang tea? Or hot sauce?

  3. I hadn't heard of it either until recently. It's actually an all natural product that somehow traps actual smoke from a wood-burning fire and condenses it by passing it through water... or something like that. I buy it at the store, but it's online as well. It makes a HUGE difference in things like baked beans, collard greens, or this pea soup where ham or bacon is the expected flavor. Here's a link to my favorite kind:

  4. So I totally made this yesterday, and it is sooooo delicious. Amazing! I'll make it again for sure. And I didn't even use any bacon or ham, because the liquid smoke makes it taste like there's meat in it. I will for sure make this again. And the immersion blender made it so convenient.

  5. Awesome! What a great idea for a meat substitute - sometimes all people want is that charred taste anyway.