Friday, October 27, 2017

Split Pea Soup

Adapted from  David Leibovitz's blog, Living the Sweet Life in Paris  now

There are some people whose recipes I know I can rely on. That doesn’t mean I want to make every one of their dishes, but the ones that appeal to me have always come through. They include, in no particular order (and are not limited to this list because I'm sure I will forget someone), Pierre Franey, Barbara Kafka, Marcella Hazan, Ina Garten, Nigella Lawson, Diana Henry, Rachel Roddy, Yotom Ottolenghi, Alice Medrich, Luisa -The Wednesday Chef, Orangette’s Molly Wizenberg, and David Leibovitz.

For years I searched for the perfect split pea soup recipe and finally struck gold with the one David published on Living the Sweet Life in Paris, on March 15, 2013. With a few tweaks, I spend the winter shuffling between my adaptation of that recipe and Marcella’s recipe for Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup on Page 94 of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Toast and Blue Cheese is a Good Complement to This Soup
Split Pea Soup
Adapted from David Lebovitz, Living the Sweet Life in Paris Blog


2 slices of your favorite bacon (optional - If you don't use it, use 3, not 2, tablespoons of olive oil, and this is what I usually do, omitting the bacon.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped, not too fine
About a tablespoon Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base (which is what I use) or chicken broth 
1 bay leaf (I use Morton & Bassett California Bay Leaves.) 
2 potatoes (russet or Yukon Gold), peeled and cubed (If the russet potato is large, I use one.)
300 grams dried split peas, washed and scoured for stones
7 to 8 cups of water (start with 7)
Black pepper
I find that the Vegetable Base makes it salty enough. If you don’t, add salt to taste as it’s cooking.
Sour cream for serving (I use Breakstone full fat.)
Homemade garlic croutons are a nice touch as is toasted bread served with a sliver of blue cheese, which is David Lebovitz's idea.    


If you are using the bacon, cook it until crisp in a large soup pot. Mine is 5 quarts. Remove the bacon, and set aside to crumble over the soup before serving. Add the olive oil to the pot. Heat it a little, then add the onion and carrots. Cook until the onion is wilted, then add the garlic, bay leaf, cubed potatoes, and the split peas. Sprinkle generously with black pepper and stir.

Add the water or chicken broth, and bring to a boil. If you are using the vegetable base, now is the time to add it. Do this slowly, tasting it so it doesn't get too salty. 

Reduce the heat to a simmer, and put a cover askew on the pot. Stir occasionally. As it’s cooking, if you notice it’s thickening more than you like, add a little more water to get it the way you like it. 

The soup is ready when the peas and potatoes are soft. This generally takes about 45 minutes but can take up to an hour. When it's done, remove the bay leaf. I leave the soup the way it is, but you can puree it with a stick blender if you like. 

Serve with crumbled bacon bits, if you are using bacon, and dollops of sour cream. Leftovers will need to be thinned with water.

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My favorite pot - a 5-quart stainless-steel-lined copper Bourgeat

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