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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Country Split Pea Soup w/ Bacon & Potatoes

Country Split Pea Soup w/ Bacon & Potatoes
Every once in a while I do something rare - I fall in love with a bowl of thick soup.  I've mentioned before (you know, once or twenty-two times...) that I am a brothy soup kind of girl.  I turn up my nose at "soups" that look like baby food.  But then, something like this pot of hearty, rustic...and thick...soup jumps up, slaps me hard across the face, and calls me a liar.
split peas
The thing is, I think my appreciation for this particular bowl of soup comes from one simple ingredient - the humble split pea.  Okay, there's bacon in it, too - and that never hurts.  But I'm a sucker for any type of peasant food.  A hearty bowl of split peas, a warm hunk of bread ripped from a loaf just out of the oven, maybe a bottle of wine...
glorious bacon
At first glance, you probably wouldn't guess that this was a split pea soup.  I mean, it's orange.  Split peas are green.  It's all very confusing.  Okay, not really.  Not only is there split peas in here, there's also a good amount of veggies.  Yes, mainly carrots.  Ah ha!  Alas, if you think this is sounding like far too virtuous a bowl of goodness for you, don't fret.  I mentioned bacon, remember!?

So just for today, let's dust off our old silver baby spoons and dig in!  Are you with me?

Country Split Pea Soup w/ Bacon & Potatoes
Thick and hearty split pea soup fortified with veggies and studded with chunks of potatoes and bacon.
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Country Split Pea Soup w/ Bacon & Potatoes
by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Keywords: soup/stew split peas bacon legumes carrots American fall winter

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 6 large carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1 lb. dried green split peas
  • 2½ quarts (10 c.) chicken stock + more as needed
  • 2 Tbs. dry sherry
  • hot sauce, optional
  • 2 cooked Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & diced
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • herbs to garnish (parsley/chives/thyme), optional
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute until the veggies have begun to soften a bit, 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the split peas and the chicken stock; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the peas are tender and soft, ~1 hour.

Remove from heat; add sherry and a few dashes of hot sauce, if using. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth (or do this carefully in batches using a blender).

Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary with salt and pepper (remember you're about to add salty bacon). Stir in the potatoes.

Ladle into warm soup bowls and divide the bacon amongst them. If you wish, scatter some fresh herbs over the whole thing and enjoy!

If you're not serving this all right away, you can either reserve the remaining cooked bacon and add it once you've reheated the soup, or you stir it into the soup and let it flavor the soup.

You can easily make this a vegetarian option by omitting the bacon (eeek!) and using vegetable stock, quick vegetable broth or simple garlic broth in place of the chicken stock.

Country Split Pea Soup w/ Bacon & Potatoes

Country Split Pea Soup w/ Bacon & Potatoes