Monday, February 16, 2009

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup always reminds me of my grandmother. It must have been one of her favorite soups, but hers was a starchy and thick consistency. This recipe, on the other hand, is a marriage of textures; it creates a more puréed soupy consistency while still maintaining the integrity of the split peas. The result is a healthy and tasty semi-chunky soup—the crumbled bacon garnish adds a nice contrasting smoky, salty flavor with a crunchy texture. An alternative garnish is chopped honey-baked ham.

This recipe can easily made vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and omitting the bacon. For the smoky flavor, use Liquid Smoke instead.

The original recipe is posted below, but I use a ham hock instead of the 2 bacon slices for flavoring the base of the soup.

Source: Split Pea Soup,
Williams-Sonoma Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup dried green or yellow split peas, picked over, rinsed, and drained
4 cups vegetable or
chicken stock
6 slices bacon
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram or ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and sauté until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and sauté until just slightly softened, 3 minutes.

Add the split peas, stock, 2 slices of the bacon, parsley, marjoram, and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer. Cover partially and cook until the peas are tender, 50-60 minutes. Discard the bacon.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat, fry the remaining 4 slices of bacon until crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When cool, crumble and set aside.

Coarsely purée 2 cups of the soup in a food processor (or with a hand-held immersion blender) and return the pureed soup to the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper to taste, return the soup to medium heat, and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with the crumbled bacon. Serve immediately.

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