I don’t know about you, but where I live, it’s still cold out. I had ONE DAY this week to wear a short-sleeved dress and thin tights and now I’m back to jackets and sweaters and grey skies. I was also in a crabby mood today because, like many Hoosiers, I’m wholeheartedly against daylight savings time (it’s just stupid and it’s another reason I want to move to Hawaii with Chad). Naturally when I got home I wanted soup, hot, yummy, comforting soup. So that’s just what I made.
I’ve been wanting to make my Aunt Karen’s split pea soup for a while now. She made it once when I was up in Naperville for my cousin Sara’s birthday (we actually usually visited for her birthday since it fell on a school holiday) and I really liked it. Sara hated it though which kind of sucked since it was her birthday dinner. Aaaaaaaaanyway I asked my cousin Dan for the recipe and he quickly sent it over. I met a small problem though when I realized I 1. didn’t have an onion, barley, or lima beans and 2. needed to make this taste a little less like peas so that Chad would eat it with me. Then I realized that 1. I don’t like onions or barley that much and 2. I always picked the lima beans out of Karen’s soup. I had all these other vegetables that would taste great in place of those missing ingredients. In fact, I got a head of green cabbage at the grocery store for (get ready) twenty-seven cents. Hooray for the Irish! For real. I’m making cabbage and carrot salad soon too. Yum.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 head of green cabbage, sliced
2 small or 1 large russet potatoes, chopped
1 C split peas
4-6 C vegetable or chicken stock*
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp parsley
1 tsp basil (dried today since there is NO good fresh basil at the grocery stores)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper**
parmesan rind (opt)
shredded jack or parmesan cheese for topping (opt)
chopped bacon for topping (opt)
*I used homemade chicken stock made with the bones and leftovers from a roast chicken. Then I wanted more broth and added a cup of white wine. Use whatever you have around or whatever you want to get rid of. You can also use water if you’re trying to limit sodium and fat.
**I used a bit less pepper than I would have because I knew I was going to add bacon to the soup after it was done and we had peppery bacon. You can always add more to taste.
Feel free to use a regular stock pot for this. I just prefer the dutch oven since it heats evenly and retains heat after the burners are off. First add the olive oil and garlic. Let this sauté until fragrant before adding the carrots and potatoes. Cook these over medium heat until you can see that they are beginning to be cooked through.
Dump in the chicken stock, peas, cabbage, and spices and stir. The liquid probably won’t cover the cabbage, but the cabbage will cook down. Cover the pot and cook at medium low for about an hour. Go play scrabble with your significant other or watch Man vs Wild or clean up all the red lentils you spilled on the floor when you were organizing your pantry.
After the hour of cooking, stir well and use this opportunity to throw in a parmesan cheese rind. Doing this with your rinds instead of throwing them away once you grated all you can keeps you from wasting precious flavor. The rind breaks down and with frequent stirring it will give up bits of cheese throughout the broth. I think I saw this first on thekitchn.com but I know Giada talks about it a lot too (when she’s not showing, in great detail, how to enunciate Italian words). Now I can’t go through parmesan fast enough in pursuit of the leftover rinds. Yum.
This soup is flavorful enough on its own, but with some shredded parmesan or jack cheese (people forget about jack cheese) it’s even better. I also cooked up some bacon (oven at 375 for 10 minutes) and tore it up over the soup in an effort to get Chad more on board with the whole “so there are peas in the soup?” routine.