I love making soups because as long as all the flavors gel together, you can pretty much toss in whatever you want and all will be right with the world. They freeze great and homemade soup always seems to be super filling. On this one, I purchased some split peas that were being discontinued a few months back, but hadn’t yet made them. After being severely disappointed by some split pea & ham soup I bought at my former workplace, I got the bug to make my own version. Recent unemployment, a freezing house, and boredom combined with everything I had on hand to make a yummy and filling soup.
I’m terming this as a “quickie” because there is some active prep time on this; since it’s a crock pot recipe, it’s obviously not going to be ready to eat in a half hour.
Special equipment needed:
Dutch oven (preferably cast iron)
Crock pot (4+ quart)
1 lb. of dried split peas
2 T diced pancetta or bacon*
2-3 ribs of celery
5-6 cloves of garlic
Salt & pepper
2 quarts of low salt chicken stock
1 cup of “quick barley”
Rinse and check over split peas. Pick out any debris, funky looking peas or other non-tasty matter. Put your picked over peas into a dutch oven and cover with about 4-5 inches of water. Boil split peas for 5 minutes, kill the heat, and allow to sit in the dutch oven (covered with a tight fitting lid) for about 30-45 minutes.
While the peas are hanging out, start prepping your veg. Get your shit together (dice onions, carrots, celery, and smash garlic). If using mushrooms, there’s no need to cut them down any further then slicing them. Drain peas and wipe out any scum from the Dutch oven. Melt a tablespoon of butter and start rendering the delicious, delicious pig fat out of the pancetta over medium heat. Once the pancetta is all nice and crispy and the fat is all deliciously rendered out, pull out the bacon and stick it on a plate. Reserve it for later (or have yourself a bacony snack). Add all of the veg to the (with the exception of the fat) now empty Dutch oven. Sweat the shit out of it.
While the veg are happily sweating down, you have to do two things. First, dump the drained peas into your crock pot with 2 quarts of chicken stock and turn your crock pot onto high for 6 hours; if you like some bay leaf in your soup, this is the time to add it into the peas. Second, get your seasonings together. Since this was such a blank slate type of meal, I decided to go with Indian spices; I used some coriander, cumin, garam masala, mild curry powder, and ginger. You can really roll with whatever you want. (If you’re a cooking n00b, try using a chart like this for some help.) Dump them into the Dutch oven while the veg are softening up but not quite there.
Once the veg are softened all the way, add them into the crock pot. Walk away until the soup is almost done. The soup is almost done when the peas are still intact, but haven’t broken done all the way. I’d say after the soup has cooked for about 5 or 6 hours, you should be all good. At this point, toss in a cup of the quick barley. (You could probably sub parboiled rice if you wanted.) The soup is done once the peas start exploding.
If you don’t have all day free like I do, you could get everything prepped the night before and then just throw it all into your crock pot before work. It goes really well with buttermilk biscuits and is a delish dinner with a biscuit or two. Add a splash of water to it when you heat it up and nom till your heart’s content.
* Omit if you don’t eat teh pig, duh. I like to use it bacon fat anytime I can.
** The shrooms fall under the category of “anything you have laying around that you think would be delicious in split pea soup.” Want to throw in some diced tomatoes, leeks, potatoes, corn, parsnips, kale, or pork chops? Go wild. I had shrooms, and I love shrooms, so shrooms went in.