Split pea soup is a favorite around our house. It's certainly my wife's favorite soup and she likes it thick. Very thick. Thick enough you can patch holes in your roof. I like a thick creamy soup as well as the next guy, but it's is more like green Spackle. Delicious, creamy, green, Spackle.
I don't like making quite that thick. With autumn in full swing, and winter not too far behind, a hearty, warm, bowl of soup can be just the thing. Don't worry. This is my favorite split pea recipe, not my wife's. It can easily be doubled so you'll have leftovers the next day.
At the end of the recipe, I'll give you some tips on how to dress it up, and even make a very tasty vegetarian version.*
large pot with lid
1 cup dry green or yellow split peas
4 cups of chicken stock
1 meaty ham bone, or 1 cup diced ham
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and sort the peas. Combine all the ingredients in large stock pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for about one hour.
Remove the ham bone (if using). Cut the meat from the bone and chop into small pieces. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Return the meat to the pot. Give the bone to a friendly dog. Add salt and pepper as needed. I don't like salting it before hand because you can't be sure how much salt the ham will give the soup.
Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until desired thickness is achieved. Remove the bay leaf and serve.
Makes 4 main dish servings.
This is still a pretty thick soup. You can dilute it with water or milk, if you like. You can also put it into plastic freezer bags and freeze it for later, if you like.
I love this soup because you can substitute so many ingredients to make variations. Any stock will do. You can even use water with a little bouillon. Try replacing the ham with crispy chopped bacon, either in the soup or on top as a garnish. Croûtons make a great garnish, or try a dollop of sour cream. Instead of marjoram, cumin makes a tasty variation as well. A shot of lemon juice can be interesting, as well. I've not tried it, but it just occured to me that a dash of wasabi powder would add a nice kick.
*Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
If you want to make a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock and omit the ham, adding one teaspoon soy sauce to the stock (optional). Add 1/4 cup chopped olives during the last 2 minutes of cooking for a surprisingly tasty zing.