Split pea soup has for me an interesting association. Do you remember the George and Martha books? I read them a lot when I was little and can recall very clearly how much George hated split pea soup. He hated it so much that he poured it into his loafers so he wouldn’t have to eat it. Neither my mother nor any of my relatives had made me the soup when I was little, so I had always assumed that it was some awful sludge-like thing. I mean, if a fictional hippopotamus dislikes it, it must be disgusting.
A few years ago, I tried it. My grandmother had made it the old-fashioned way with a ham hock. I fell in love with it. Never had I realized how similar split peas and lentils are. It was a tasty revelation. I know had a new recipe to make.
The only problem was that my father doesn’t eat red meat, so we never had ham lying around. To get around this problem, I tried to make a split pea and tomato soup, not realizing that adding acidic ingredients to split peas hinders their cooking. After hours and hours of trying to soften the peas I just gave up.
This time I finally got it right. I used a Barefoot Contessa recipe, added a little extra liquid and some white wine, and got something quite splendid for this cold weather. Contrary to whatever George thinks, split pea soup does not belong in your loafers.
Split Pea Soup
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Note: Though split peas are naturally gluten-free they can be cross-contaminated during processing. Some will even say that they may contain wheat. I bought peas specifically marked gluten-free.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3-4 medium carrots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large potato, skins on, sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
9-10 cups water/vegetable broth/chicken broth (all broth might be too salty, use your judgement)
1 pound dried split green peas
1/2 cup white wine
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Sauté onions and carrots in olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Once carrots are tender and onions translucent, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add potato, basil, and 6 cups of the liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes, stirring once in a while. Uncover and the add the remaining lentils and liquid. Cook 40 more minutes, stirring very often. In the last 10 of cooking minutes stir in the white wine. Once lentils are tender, add salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.