Split-pea soup, old-people style

Jessie made some pretty tasty split-pea soup the other night when I was sick, so now that she has the same cold I had, I decided to try making split-pea soup for her.

I’m not a soup person at all. I generally don’t get filled up by overly brothy minestrones and the like, and I’m not much of a stew fan, but last week (before I got sick) I had split-pea soup to die for.

I was at lunch with one of my salesmen, so we went to one of his clients, a restaurant that might as well be the cafeteria for the local nursing home. The menu is from the ’50s, and not in that cool, retro way. The food is good, but the decor and the selection were outdated 40 years ago. I ordered a burger and fries, not realizing that the meal also comes with a soup. I ordered the split-pea on a whim, because the other option sounded like it was a Chef Boyardee special.

It was heavenly. Perfectly pureed with very subtle flavors complementing all that great pea-ness (don’t read that last word out loud). And it had deep-fried croutons on top. I was in shock over how good it was.

Tonight I came pretty close to replicating it, though I’ll say that while my background flavors were stronger, I didn’t puree it quite long enough, and my fried croutons weren’t as sinful.  I’m confident next time I make it I’ll exceed what the restaurant did, and then Jessie better watch out — it will be a weekly staple.

Here’s what I used:

  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I use Trader Joe’s concentrate in little green packets)
  • One 16-ounce bag 0f frozen peas (use high-quality organic if you can, the flavor is stronger)
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • Handful of your favorite salad croutons
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper and bacon salt (if you have it)

Here’s what I did:

  • Bring the vegetable broth to a boil, add peas and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the peas until smooth.
  • Add bay leaves, oregano and 2 teaspoons salt or bacon salt. Simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes, or until reduced to desired thickness.
  • Meanwhile, pan-fry your croutons in olive oil, turning frequently, until golden brown. I was sauteeing a steak at the same time, so I shared the pan.
  • Remove the bay leaves. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with fried croutons on top.

This was a total experiment, but I was pretty pleased with the end result. I’ve never made split-pea soup before, nor have I seen a recipe for it, so your idea of split-pea soup might be different than mine (and the restaurant’s). Enjoy, and let me know how you improve the recipe if you try it.

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About the Author

Owner of a graphic design firm specializing in magazine design and wannabe chef. Former resident of Belgium, the United Kingdom and...North Dakota.