This soup post is dedicated to the three animals that make our every day life incredibly rich and funny: Pippa, Penny, and Chick. We love all three of them in spite of the fact that they wake us up in the wee hours for various reasons, they shed, they get fleas, they create enormous inconveniences… and yet: every single day we have them in our lives they make us laugh, they repay us in kind for the things we do for them, they curl up and keep us warm on cold winter nights, they cheer us up when we’re depressed for no reason. And Pippa, most especially our funny bow-legged, silly, sweet Pippa who helps Max get to sleep every night and suffers our stifling affections for her and her antics which we know she can’t help, being a little weird in the head from being abandoned at 4 weeks old by her mother and suffering malnutrition (also the cause of the bow legs). Without Pippa we would be so much less than we are.
I’m linking this post to Branny Boils Over‘s ASPCA donation challenge (for every soup post that’s linked up to theirs dedicated to a loved pet they will donate $1 to the ASPCA). The deadline to participate is January 31st so there’s plenty of time for you all to join in and raise some money for the care of animals! Please note that you don’t even have to have a blog (or if you have a blog but it’s not a food blog – no problem) please go over to Branny Boils Over to read how you can be part of this too.
Most people know split pea soup as a smooth porky flavored comfort food. Not in my house. Being brought up vegetarian, my mom had veg versions of most of the classics and this is roughly based on the version she made for me growing up. It’s the first soup I ever mastered on my own. It has chunky vegetables in it but the peas become smooth as it cooks for a long time. I prefer to use fresh dill whenever possible but I’ve failed to get it established in my current garden and no one local sells it here. So I use dry these days. If you’re looking for something that mimics the taste of ham-hock, this is not the soup for you. But for everyone else – this is an amazing split pea soup!
Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 quarts stock (or water)
- 2 1/2 cups split peas
- 2 potatoes, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 tsp dill (or one whole bunch fresh, minced)
- 2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 head cauliflower, cut in small florets
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and once it is hot add the onion, celery, and carrots. Saute them until the onions are translucent and the edges starting to brown.
- Add the stock and stir in the split peas. Bring the stock to a boil and then turn it down a little to med/high heat. Add the potatoes, garlic, dill, salt and pepper.
- Cook the soup for a long time, stirring every five minutes. When the peas begin to break down you need to pay more attention, stir more frequently to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down to med/low. It usually takes a minimum of an hour for the peas to start breaking down. It will take a minimum of a half an hour after that for them to get silky and fully cooked.
- Once the split peas are completely soft add the cauliflower. This will not take long to cook. When the cauliflower is just tender the soup is done.
It is very important to note that you must be intuitive about the amount of water/stock needed. I've given the minimum amount that I find I need every time I make this. Depending on how quickly the peas break down you may need to add more water. You add more water when it becomes thick and the peas aren't yet done cooking (that means they need to absorb more water to be done or they'll stubbornly adhere to the bottom of your pot) and you add more water if the soup is thicker than you like it once the peas are done cooking.
The smaller you chop your vegetables the more quickly they'll break down and blend with the split peas. If you want to have chunks of vegetables when the soup is done, cut them into larger pieces. This soup usually takes 2 hours to make. I realize that's hard to fathom in this day of FAST recipes. It isn't fast and it's completely worth the time it takes to cook. You can, of course, cook this in a slow cooker but I'll be honest - I've done that and I hated it. So I obviously can't personally recommend that you do that. I add the cauliflower last because it doesn't take long to cook and I like to have whole cauliflower pieces in the soup.
If you want to make a cauliflower garnish as I've done for the picture - cut a 1/4" cross section from the middle of the whole head of cauliflower before cutting it into florets. Brush the cross section with olive oil and broil it in the oven on both sides until browned.
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