30 Nov Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Until the 5th grade, my mom’s Hambone Stew was my favorite soup on earth.
Growing up, I was an incredibly picky eater, and second in the line of evil food items on my list (spinach) was the dreaded pea.And my mom, a damn smart woman, was determined to get me to eat my veggies. So, that hambone stew? It was actually just split pea soup, but since she knew I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole if I heard the word “pea”, she craftily renamed it and I licked the bowl every time. Now, as I mentioned, it was my favorite… until 5th grade. That was the point in my life that my school came out with a cookbook containing all our parents’ signature recipes, and in that book my mom spilled the beans on the real secret behind my beloved hambone stew. I LOST MY MIND (I literally can still see the font and layout of the book in my mind’s eye). Horrified by the fact I’d been putting PEAS into my stomach, I stopped eating the stew (and trusting anyone ever again lol).
That is until this weekend when I had an undeniable pang of post-Thanksgiving homesickness, a bag of split peas someone had left in my pantry, and NOTHING else to eat out of the ingredients in my fridge. So popped open the bag, took a deep breath, forgave the sins of my genius mother, created this recipe, and have been eating bowl after bowl since.
Ironically, now I don’t have to rid of the previously-loathed split pea in this soup, but the original fake namesake: the hambone. Liquid smoke and cumin give the illusion of that bone and leaving a few chunks to stir in at the end gives the right texture of that flaked off meat.
This one’s for you mom, thank you for teaching me from an early age how to get kids to eat their veggies- it has proven to be an integral part of my career 😉 And Mrs. Tyler? If you’re reading this, I still haven’t gotten over the creamed spinach incident (and crazily, to this day, spinach is still the last man standing in my food hates!) but someday, someday, maybe I’ll have one of these recipes in your honor 😉
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1 large sweet onion, small diced
- 3 large carrots, small diced
- 3 celery stalks, small diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 24 ounces dried split peas, rinsed and sorted
- 3 tablespoons liquid smoke
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- Kosher sea salt + fresh cracked pepper
- In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add celery, onions, and carrots and saute until softened but not turning brown, about 5-10 minutes (depending on how small you diced them).
- Add cumin and 1/2 tablespoon salt, stir, and cook for an additional minute.
- Stir in split peas, stir to coat and cook for 2 minutes. Add broth and liquid smoke. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low and simmer with the lid on for about 45 minutes until peas are completely soft.
- Pour soup into a strainer, reserving the broth in a bowl below. Remove 1 cup of the solids and set aside back in the soup pot. Add the remaining solids to your blender along with 2 cups of the liquid. Blend until very smooth, adding a little more broth if needed to get the blender moving.
- Transfer back to the soup pot with the reserved 1 cup of solids and stir to combine. Leave as is, or stir in more of your reserved broth until you've reached your desired consistency (some like it super thick, some thinner- go for what makes you happy). Taste, and add as much salt and pepper that it takes to make it sing (depends on how salty your broth is and how salty/peppery you like it- I added about 1/2 tablespoon of salt and about 10 cranks of pepper).
- Ladle into bowls and serve hot.
- Like most soups, this is better if made at least a day ahead and reheated. Save some of your extra broth because it will thicken in the fridge.