This soup is truly one of my personal favorite comfort foods. I adore the simplicity of the ingredients, how inexpensive this soup is to make and I like how wonderful this soup cooks up using the slow cooker. (My loyal readers are aware of my love affair with my slow cooker.)
I prefer this soup rather thick, but you can adjust the stock amount as the soup cooks to suit your preference if you like a thinner soup. You can change up the flavor of this soup by choosing to add in some curry powder or some cayenne pepper. Or, you enjoy it with simply salt, pepper and thyme as the main seasonings.
I don't make this soup often because I have a couple of children who would rather be forced into a ten hour marathon of household chores than eat a soup with peas as the main ingredient. My daughter asked if I was actually going to post this on my blog because she was so grossed out by this soup!
People do seem to either really love split pea soup or they absolutely despise it. I, for one, kind of like it - a whole lot!
This soup can be made using some leftover ham, a hambone or ham hocks. It's a great soup to make after you've had a big ham dinner.
Even if you may be the only one keen to split pea soup in your household, don't worry - the leftovers are even better the next day or two (and it freezes beautifully). (Add in a little stock or water when reheating. The soup thickens even more after being in the fridge overnight.)
Yields 4 - 6 servings.
3/4 - 1 pound of leftover ham (left in large pieces for easy removal when blending soup later), ham hocks or a hambone
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 1/2 cups (1 pound bag) dried split peas (picked over and rinsed)
Leaves of 2 - 3 thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper or curry powder (optional)
1 tablespoon ham base (optional - gives the soup a more-prominent ham flavor)
7 - 8 cups chicken stock
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling on soup at time of service
Add all ingredients except for the olive oil into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 - 5 hours. It's best to keep an eye on it after 3 - 4 hours as the liquid gets absorbed by the peas. I begin with 7 cups of stock and often add another cup later, if needed. (I add my initial stock amount in heated, so this lessens the cooking time. Adding cold stock in the beginning will mandate a longer cooking time.)
Remove ham chunk(s), ham bone or ham hocks from slow cooker. If there's meat that you'd like to put back into the soup, shred or chop it into small pieces and add it back in once soup has been blended.
Use an immersion blender right in the slow cooker to blend the soup. (I prefer to blend it until about half is blended and some chunks still remain. But, if you would like the soup completely pureed, blend the entire amount of soup.) Alternatively, you can blend the soup in a blender by working in small batches (only fill the blender half full each time and allow ventilation on the lid).
Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
Drizzle each bowl of soup with a little olive oil at time of service and garnish with some freshly-cracked black pepper. Serve with croutons or crackers. Topping the soup with some crumbled cooked bacon is fabulous, too.