If your days are as busy and rushed as mine have been lately, perhaps you won’t mind if I give barely any introduction to this recipe. In a way, this is a soup that needs no introduction: it’s your basic, all-purpose, down-to-earth split-pea soup. This is the one I whip up when I’m serving curry-haters (yes, they do exist!) or am just in the mood for a milder soup that gets its flavor from caramelized onions and vegetables, rather than spices. It’s true comfort food–quick comfort food if you use the pressure cooker. In about half an hour, you can go from wondering what’s for dinner to sitting down to eat. And in these busy days, who can resist that?
Thick and Hearty Split Pea Soup
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 carrots diced
- 3 ribs celery chopped
- 2 cups dried split peas checked carefully for debris and rinsed
- 6-8 cups water
- 2 medium potatoes coarsely chopped
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1-2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke or smoked salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat a pressure cooker or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan often, until they begin to caramelize. (Add water by the tablespoon if necessary to prevent sticking.) Add the garlic, carrots, and celery and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the peas to the pot. If you’re using a pressure cooker, add 6 cups of water; for regular cooking, add 8 cups water. Stir in the potatoes, bay leaf, celery seed, basil, and thyme.
- For pressure cooking: Seal the cooker and bring to high pressure. Lower heat and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes (8 minutes for electric pressure cooker). Remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally. If beans are not completely cooked, cover loosely and cook (without pressuruntil they reach the desired tenderness.
- For regular cooking: Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over very low heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until peas are soft and disintegrate when stirred.
- For both methods: Once the peas are tender, add the liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. Check the seasoning and add more herbs if necessary. Cook several minutes uncovered to thicken (or add water to thin). Serve with warm whole-grain bread.
- Makes about 8 servings, and tastes even better the next day!
If curried split-pea soups are your thing, here are a couple of my favorites:
Or, if you prefer smoky, southwestern flavors, take a look at Southwestern Split-Pea Soup.