We move in a couple weeks, and I’ve been trying to use up my pantry. Hence another legume-based recipe. This time soup. For all but the hottest months of the year, I keep a pot of soup in the fridge. I usually whip something up toward the end of the week, with whatever is left on hand. Family members can dip into the pot for lunch or a quick snack, or I can serve the soup as supper, along with salad and some kind of bread. This recipe is one of my standby’s. Unlike many split pea soups, which require a ham hock, this can be made with ingredients I typically have on hand. The bacon provides enough flavor to satisfy those people who believe soup must start with a bone. This makes about 10 cups of soup. Enjoy!
4 slices flavorful bacon (ideally nitrate-free)
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. plus 1-2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot red pepper, finely chopped
2 medium “baking” potatoes
3 cups dried split peas, rinsed and sorted
9 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried tarragon
Finely dice bacon (or cut into bits using kitchen scissors). In a large soup pot, melt butter and 1 tsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon. Turn heat up slightly and fry until bacon is crisp and has rendered most of its fat. Turn heat down to medium again. Add 1-2 T. olive oil, onion, carrots and celery and sauté 5 minutes, stirring often. While vegetables are cooking, peel and cut potatoes into a ½-inch dice. Add garlic and hot pepper to the pot and sauté another 60 seconds, stirring once or twice.
Add diced potatoes to the pot, along with the split peas. Add broth and stir to combine. Crumble in dried thyme and dried tarragon. Bring soup to a boil, then turn down heat. Skim mixture several times to remove froth. Partially cover soup and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender and have started to fall apart, usually 25-40 minutes. (Time will depend on the age of the dried peas.) Remove from heat. Cool soup slightly.
Using care, scoop out 3 cups of soup and purée it in a blender. (To purée hot liquids, remove the center of the blender’s lid to provide a place for the steam to escape. Cover the hole with a folded clean kitchen towel, making sure that the folded towel is several layers thick. With several layer of towel between the hot liquid and your hand, hold the towel in place over the vent and turn the blender on.) Pour the puréed soup back into the pot. Repeat twice.