Soups are a staple on my menus. Whether it’s summer or winter, there’s one frequently simmering on the stove. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love soup especially when the temperature dips. Split pea soup is one of those comforting, cold weather “hugs” in a bowl type of soup.
Most of the women in my family frequently made soups from peas or beans. It was a means to stretch the budget and make use of all leftovers – including tossing the beautiful ham bone from Sunday dinner into the soup adding a richness to the stock. Mom would always keep the bone from leftover ham, wrapping it and keeping it in the freezer for stocks or soups. The flavor of the soup would only get better with time and you could feed a family for days.
Split peas make a hearty and incredibly satisfying soup. Sweet onions, carrots and garlic along with the flavor from the ham bone elevate this peasant dish to a feast. If you don’t have a ham bone on hand you can pick one up from food markets or specialty stores. Hold out a half-pound of the peas for the second half of the simmering time to give another layer of depth to the soup. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a slice of toasted Ciabatta and you’ve got dinner.
Rich in color, richer in flavor – split pea soup warms the soul on a cold winter day!
Split Pea Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped, about 2-1/2 cups
6-8 carrots, peeled and chopped, about 2 cups
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
13 cups chicken stock, plus extra as needed to thin the soup
2 teaspoons concentrated chicken bouillon
2-1/2 pounds dried split peas, rinsed and sorted
1 ham bone
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and carrots, season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and the black pepper. Cook the onions and carrots until the vegetables are somewhat tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and the oregano and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, the concentrated chicken bouillon and 2 pounds of the split peas. Stir to blend the vegetables and the peas together. Place the ham bone in the stockpot with the peas. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook partially covered for about 40-45 minutes or until the peas are tender.
Add the remaining half-pound of split peas, the remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste and continue cooking partially covered for another 40 minutes until all the peas are tender. (The amount of salt will vary depending on the flavor of the ham bone.) Stir the soup frequently, as it thickens it will tend to stick to the bottom of the stockpot.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the soup for serving.
The soup will thicken as it sits, so add additional chicken stock as needed.