It is soup season and as long as that’s true, The Sylvia Center will continue to share all of our best soup recipes because it just wouldn’t be fair of us to keep them to ourselves. We found this one from Smitten Kitchen, a Split Pea Soup sans the ham, and we share all of her reasons for loving it despite all the (superficial) reasons it gives us not to. Sure, Split Pea Soup gets a bad rap for its un-aesthetically pleasing features, but this is easily solved through skipping pureeing the soup at the end and using one of our tried and true techniques for livening up most recipes— toppings toppings toppings!
The soup is deeply and delicately flavored by the trifecta of leeks, celery and carrot. The long simmering time (note, 50-60 minutes for the split peas to soften), allows the flavors to marry and meld. At the end of simmering, taste and look for a texture contrast between the split peas that have broken down and those that have remained whole. If the peas are still a bit crunchy, give it more time, you’ll know when the balance is right.
For toppings, we were inspired by the cousin of one of our Sylvia Center colleagues who shared this meal with us. She instinctively added a few splashes of red wine vinegar, bright red sliced tomatoes, and said, “should we have cheesy toasts?”. Quickly realizing we were in the presence of a toppings virtuoso, we followed her lead. We put the toasts together as we served ourselves, but next time this step will happen as the soup spends its last few minutes simmering.
Within our first bites, it was hard to remember what we were ever doing before knowing this recipe, and life has since become divided into B.S.P.S (before split pea soup) and A.S.P.S (after split pea soup). We can’t say it will be as dramatic for you, but we truly hope it finds its way into your kitchen this soup season!
*See Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for more topping ideas and for instructions on adapting this recipe for an InstantPot or electric pressure cooker.
Split Pea Soup
For the Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil or 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter
3 leeks, halved and sliced into ribbons
1 carrot, chopped small
1 large rib celery, chopped
Salt and freshly black pepper
4 cloves garlic, cloves peeled and sliced thin
1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed and picked over
2 quarts vegetable stock or broth.
2 to 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves still on (optional), or ½ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
Optional Additions To Finish
Red wine vinegar, a few splashes per bowl
Tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Heat a 4 to 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat. Add oil, or oil and butter, and once warm, add leeks, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook until softened and beginning to get slightly brown at edges, about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook two minutes more. Add the dried peas and stir to coat with the vegetables, then add the vegetable stock or broth, thyme, if using, and bay leaf.
- Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce to a low simmer and cook, partially covered, until peas have softened, 50 to 60 minutes.
- Remove thyme sprigs (most of the leaves will have fallen off) and bay leaf and season very well with salt and black pepper.
- Ladle soup into bowls and finish with garnishes of your choice. Leftovers keep well in the fridge or freezer. If it doesn’t loosen enough when you rewarm it, add splashes of broth or water to your liking.
Enough slices of bread for each person, we prefer a hearty whole grain or sourdough
Cheese such as cheddar, mozzarella, or whatever you have on hand
- Decide if you want to make theses in a toaster oven, broiler, or on the stove. For the stove, spread a thin layer of butter or oil on non-cheesy side of bread. For the former, start preheating your toaster oven or broiler.
- Grate or thinly slice cheese, then lay over toasts until you’ve reached your desired level of cheesiness.
- Toast in toaster oven or under the broiler, or grill on a skillet until the cheese has melted and the bread starts to brown.