Wishing for that nostalgic comfort food after a cold, wet day with the a savory taste, hearty bites and void of allergens? Here ya go!
Pea soup is mentioned in historical texts as far back as Ancient Greece when it was served as a street food and even has a place in history for being served to King Louis XIV of France as a delicacy (made with fresh peas rather than dry). Somewhere around the 1700s pea soup's cousin pea pudding became a staple in the diet of British sailors as the simple ingredients kept well aboard ship during long voyages and could be cooked up without too much hassle for a crowd. Thus started the understanding that pea soup was for the masses - an affordable peasant food. Well, peasant food has made a comeback in modern times - we're all about Shepherdess Pie and Lentil Soup, two common comfort foods that have 'peasant origins.'
We at A Spoon & A Fork didn't grow up with pea soup as a family staple so that's probably why we feel a little more free to change things up. However, our recipe is just as tasty and homey and hearty as the best pea soup out there.
We've only ever made this recipe with dry peas. The cooking time would of course be reduced if working with fresh or frozen peas however the taste profile would probably be extremely different as well. The slow cooking is a part of the thick flavorfulness of the soup.
Rinsing the peas before and after soaking is very important. Before soaking, the peas need to be rinsed to reduce the starch build-up during soaking and to pick out any stones that may have been transferred to the batch while the peas were harvested. Afterwards it's to rinse away excess starch brought out from soaking.
Some split pea soup recipes will say all you need to do is rinse the peas and get started cooking but we beg to differ. Soaking the peas softens them and reduces cooking time as well as helps get rid of excess starchiness that may sour the flavor when the peas are cooked (and may even require extra cooking).
We suggest soaking the peas for at least four hours in cool water and about 1 Tbsp of apple cider or white distilled vinegar (not balsamic). If you forget to soak them overnight you can try boiling them for ten minutes in a large pot and then turning off the heat and leaving them to sit for about 1 hour before rinsing them and adding them to the pot. Soaked peas will be softer than their dry counterparts and may even double in size.
If you don't have vegetable broth you can use 2 vegetable bouillon cubes and 4 cups of water.
For a more traditional recipe or one with less spice, you can exclude the cayenne, crushed red pepper, and chili powder. The smoked paprika lends an almost sausage-type flavor and may be missed if excluded from the recipe.
Potatoes aren't necessary but they add an extra chunkiness to the soup and help to thicken it into a stew-like consistency. You can omit them if you wish.
For a thinner soup, more soupy than stewy, add an extra cup of water. You may have to adjust the seasonings to accommodate the extra liquid.
Recipe: Chunky Split Pea Soup
Cuisine: English Comfort Food
Skill Level: Intermediate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Soak Time: 4 hours (or overnight)
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Active Time: 2 hours and 15
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion (about 1 ½ cups chopped)
2 large celery stalks (about ½ cup chopped)
2 large carrots (about 1 cup chopped)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic (about 1 Tbsp minced)
2 large potatoes (about 1 cup chopped)
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
⅛ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 cup dried split peas, rinsed and soaked
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 tsp smoked salt
Rinse peas four times in cool or lukewarm water until water is clear and not foamy or cloudy. Soak in cool water with 1 Tbsp vinegar for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
Heat large pot with coconut oil over medium heat and saute onions for about 10 minutes.
While onions are sauteing rinse and chop celery, rinse and peel and chop carrots, rinse and chop potatoes (don't need to peel but you can) and dice or mince garlic. The sizes for celery and carrot are up to you - as large or small as you like, since the soup will be cooking for a long time.
Add chopped celery to onions for about 2 minutes.
Add chopped carrots and freshly ground black pepper for about 3 minutes.
Add diced or minced garlic for 1 minute.
Add dry spices except smoked salt (cayenne, crushed red pepper, chili powder, oregano, nutritional yeast, and paprika) to pot, thoroughly coating all vegetables, and toast for about 1 minute.
Add chopped potatoes and mix until thoroughly coated with toasted spices, sauteing for about 2 minutes.
Rinse pre-soaked dry split peas and add to pot, mixing until coated with toasted spices.
Pour in vegetable broth and water and stir pot until everything is combined evenly. Cover pot and allow to boil before reducing heat to medium-low and simmering for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After the soup has been simmering for about 45 minutes taste and adjust seasonings, then re-cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
Add smoked salt and cover and cook for another 20 minutes. Soup should be a stew-like consistency with chunks of vegetables and the peas should be disintegrating but still recognizable as split peas.
Let soup sit for about 5 minutes before serving. We like our Chunky Split Pea Soup with Hearty Garlic Thyme Bread slices or Savory Drop Biscuits and a colorful side salad. This soup tastes even better after having time to let the spices soak in further so it works great as leftovers or made ahead. Soup will keep for a week in the refrigerator and about 2-3 months in the freezer. To reheat you can add a couple tablespoons of water to slightly thin the thick stew once it's been refrigerated or frozen.
Let us know what you did when you tried this recipe in the comments below. Wish we'd omit something else from the recipe? Send us a request!