Simple Satisfying Split Pea Soup

During this Split Pea Soup Week, I am reminded of my first welcoming bowl of this sort of nourishment on a foggy, clammy day in London. You can ask me the name of the pub where I consumed this scrummy sustenance; I have no idea. The creamy, hammy potage served with a piece of dry toast and a shandy* were all that were needed to chase the dampness from my tour-weary bones.

There is a neighborhood pub on every corner, most of which have split pea soup on the luncheon menu alongside ever-present plates of bangers and mash. As a peckish 16-year-old from rural North Georgia, I was so busy absorbing all the sites and scenes I had experienced that morning, that it never occurred to me to look at the sign hanging outside before pushing through the door to immediate warmth and comfort.

Pea soup is highly under-rated and an utter doddle to make. In fact, I chuckle when I walk down the aisle at the grocery and see “instant pea soup” sold in packets. It is an absolutely brilliant dish for a rainy and dank day.

  • 1 lb. (2 1/4 cups) green split peas (soaked overnight)
  • 2 1/2 quarts of water
  • 2-3 tablespoons ham, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oregano-infused olive oil, for drizzling
  • Croutons for garnish

Pick over the peas and remove any stone and soak overnight (if you remember.) Drain and place in a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Skim the scum off the top of the soup for several minutes, until the scum ceases to rise, then reduce the heat and allow peas to simmer.

Add grated carrots (you can use a food processor, but a grater is faster and easier to clean), ham, garlic, and bay leaf and cover loosely. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 1 to 1 ½ hour (less if soaked overnight.) Stir occasionally to prevent peas from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

First, remove the bay leaf. The soup should be fairly smooth with small bits of ham, but if you want a super smooth, you may want to use a blender. An immersion blender works stonking well for this. If you are using a regular blender, take care to work in batches and only fill the blender halfway if the soup is still hot, and hold down the lid while blending.

Return the purée to the pot and heat to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the luvvly-jubbly draught into warm bowls and drizzle with olive oil and garnish with easy-peasy croutons.

Easy-Peasy Crouton Hack:
I love this short cut (probably because I choose to believe that I came up with it myself.) Toast a few slices of day-old bread and rub with a clove of garlic and brush with olive oil (or if you REALLY need them in a jiffy, spray them with cooking spray.) Cut the toasted bread into cubes and Tally-Ho!

*A shandy is beer mixed with “lemonade” which in Great Britain another name for citrus-flavored soda akin to Sprite or 7-Up (just like potato chips are called “crisps” and French fries are called “chips”). The proportion of beer to lemonade is normally half-and-half, but can be adjusted to taste. You should also be aware that European beverages are a tad dodgy in the refrigeration department and are not served icy cold as they are in America, as a result I preferred a greater ratio of lemonade to beer!