Monday, February 21, 2011

Split Pea Soup and a Question


Quite often we’ll have a bowl of soup and a salad for dinner. We love soup and, in fact, this recipe will be the ninth soup I’ve posted since I began My Carolina Kitchen a little over two years ago. Here’s a link to some of our favorites. You might remember that sometimes we like to pass soup in little demitasse cups from a silver tray as an appetizer when we’re having a dinner party. It makes an elegant starter with a glass of wine or champagne and guests are pleasantly surprised by it.

I was talking to a good friend on the phone one day and happened to mention to her that we were having soup and a salad for dinner. “Oh, I could never do that,” she said. “Bob doesn’t consider soup to be a dinner.”  Which brings me to the question - do you consider soup to be a dinner? I’d love to know what you think.

I believe I’ve found a couple of secrets to making a really good soup. It’s how you sauté the vegetables. My mother used to throw the vegetables in without browning them first. While there’s nothing wrong with that and it does save a bit of time, if you brown the vegetables first your soup will have a much richer flavor. The second secret is to add the herbs and a little bit of tomato paste to the vegetables at the end of the browning stage. Here’s what I do. I start the vegetables on high heat, then quickly switch to low, season with salt and pepper, and cook them slowly until they are nice and brown, taking care that they not burn. Then I add the herbs I’m using (thyme and fresh rosemary are my favorites) and a little tomato paste and cook the vegetables for a few more minutes until the tomato paste is blended in and begins to brown.

As I write this I so wish we were in Provence right now where I could pop over and buy a crusty baguette from this cute French guy at the farmer’s market. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Market day in Saint Remy-de-Provence, France


Split Pea Soup
From My Carolina Kitchen

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 sprigs parsley, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 whole carrots, scraped & diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good pinch of dried thyme and chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon tomato paste
12-oz package of green split peas
6 cups liquid (4 beef broth and 2 water)
1 bay leaf
Browned small chunks of ham for garnish (optional)

Brown the vegetables in a non-stick skillet in the olive oil about fifteen minutes or until well softened and have taken on a golden hue. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Start the vegetables off on high heat and quickly turn the heat to very low, stirring frequently. After the vegetables have browned, add the dried thyme, chopped fresh rosemary, and the tomato paste and stir well. Cook a few minutes more until the tomato paste gets incorporated into the aromatics.

In the meantime put the peas (it’s not necessary to soak split peas prior to cooking) and the broth and water into a large stockpot. After the vegetables have browned, add them the peas along with a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover and cook 1 – 1 ½ hours or until peas are tender. Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup with a wand mixer or in a blender. Add more liquid if necessary and check for seasonings. Garnish with small chunks of browned ham if desired and some crusty French bread.

Cook’s variation:

Sauté onion and carrots over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Add a chopped clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika, a bay leaf, and freshly ground black pepper; cook three minutes. Add tomato paste and 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce. Before serving soup, combine 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, and some chopped fresh parsley. Stir mixture into the soup. Spoon soup into individual serving bowls and top with about a tablespoon of sour cream per serving.

62 comments:

  1. Yes, indeed, we consider soup, salad and a good slice or two of bread to be just the right dinner. We have it often during the week--winter and summer. We like cold soups in the summer generally but sometimes have hot.

    The first time I had split pea soup was at Le Escoffier in, I think, the Beverly Hilton in L.A.. It was wonderful. They served a small glass of Dry Sack alongside and, of course, we added it to the soup. I don't think the restaurant is still there but my memory of that soup certainly is. I look forward to doing your recipe. We have also served soup in cups before dinner.

    Best,
    Bonnie

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  2. Good Morning Sam Sweetie...
    Oh my goodness what a wonderful recipe you have shared today. I so love it. Split Pea Soup, and I am going to give your browning a try. I am afraid I have been cooking a little like your sweet Momma. Woops.

    Yes, YES soup is a meal. We have it with fresh baked bread all the time. I don't know how it couldn't be a meal. It really is filling.

    I will have to let you know how my Split Pea turns out. I will be making it soon. Thank you so much sweetie for sharing it this morning. You are a doll.

    I lost all of my blogs that I was following on my dashboard, so I haven't been able to see when anyone posts. I finally found google reader, so I am back to visiting. Even though I am following many blogs, it just doesn't show up on my dashboard, and blogger is so stinkin hard to reach. I just threw my hands up and gave up. But where there is a will, there is a way.

    Have a gorgeous week my friend. Many hugs and much love, Sherry

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  3. We very often have soup for dinner with either a salad, a sanddwich, bread with pâté or antipasto. True comfort food!
    Love your tips for enhancing the taste; will surely try that tomato paste idea.
    Have a nice week.
    Rita

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  4. I love soup but Don doesn't except for Clam Chowder. I will order it out for my meal quite often though. He'll eat it but he's more a meat/potatoes man. He really doesn't like stews much either. That looks like a wonderful recipe if I half it then I can also freeze some.

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  5. We all have the right to dream... ;-P

    A lovely soup with lots of flavor! Split peas are so tasty.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  6. Absolutely, soup is dinner!! I like the addition of the tomato paste...must try. ANd yes, a crusty baguette from a handsome Frenchman would be nice about now!!

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  7. I do agree about the browning the veggies. I just never realized that is what it was until you posted it though. Thanks for the Ah ha moment. Yes, soups are on our menu plan about once a week then I have the leftovers for lunches. Oddly enough split pea is the one soup my hubby refused to have now due to a bad experience on a camping trip. Oh well, there are other veggies to sauté.

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  8. We also love soup and this sounds delicious. Diane

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  9. For me, it depends on what kind of soup it is for me to determine whether it's enough to be called "dinner". This split pea soup would be great for dinner, but something like chicken noodle soup... not so much.

    btw, new follower here! I'm not a cook but I like to attempt it sometimes. I love checking out recipes though! I'm also from western Carolina.. small town called Hayesville.. but currently living in Miami.

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  10. We often have soup and salad and crusty bread as a meal -- more in the cool weather, of course. And I definitely agree about browning the vegetables first.

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  11. Funny, I just posted a bowl of soup! My hubby does not consider it a meal unless it contains lots of piece of meat to knaw on LOL, I however do any shape or form...Yours looks wonderful!

    I had a bowl of mushroom the other day with a lovely toast with melted brie! Was totally yummy and filling!

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  12. Looks like a great soup Sam and I'll remember the brown first tip. I absolutely consider soup to be a supper meal and we eat a lot of them. I can imagine many meat and tater carnivor types wouldn't though.

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  13. Sam, your recipe is wonderful. I do serve certain soups for dinner. When and what depends on the season and what we've been doing for the day. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  14. I'm glad my husband enjoys soup suppers because soup is my very favorite thing to cook, and split pea is one of the top. Your soup looks lovely and sounds delicious. And yes, I would enjoy buying a baguette from that cutie!
    Rocquie

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  15. We love soup, and I totally agree with your tip on browning the veggies, first. Tomato paste is one of my secret ingredients. I admit, that I'm fond of using white wine, or sherry, in my soups, too. It's cold today, and now I'm off to try a new soup recipe. I love split pea soup... so comforting and healthy. Come to think of it, I think I froze some ham stock. Hmmm... I think I've got an idea!

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  16. Soup is definitely dinner - once a week in the winter. Crusty baguettes from cute guys are a bonus. Split pea soup is served every month and I am loking dreamy-eyed at yours. Yes, sauteeing the vegetables makes a huge difference (the squirt of tomato paste also). Once in a while I oven-roast the vegetables that imparts a lot of rich flavor. Those who don't have fresh soup for dinners are missing flavor in their lives!

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  17. Soup for dinner...we often do that...like you I just have soup in my new post :-)...my husband love split pea soup...will try your recipe next time. Have a great week ahead!

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  18. I vote yes on soup for dinner! Love it. We make a big batch of soup and freeze it if it is a good candidate. That way there is always some ready in case there is no time to cook. We also take corn tortillas, put homemade pesto on them and bake for about 15 min. or until crisp. Great easy side for soup. That is...if you do not have a cute French guy selling bread. Ha.

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  19. That recipe sounds wonderful Sam. I love split pea. When I make it I crumble a couple pieces of cooked bacon on top instead of the ham.

    Yes, we have soup for dinner quite often. In fact last night we had chicken, white bean and spinach soup with a side salad. I had the left overs today for lunch.
    Hugs
    Penny

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  20. Bonjour Sam ~ I love soup for Dinner especially with a crusty loaf and salad.
    Thank you for the tip about browning the vegetables first then adding herbs and tomato paste ~I will definitely try that.
    Have a wonderful week.

    "All Things French"

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  21. It absolutely is dinner - with Irish butter and a loaf of Vernon's rosemary garlic baguette?

    YUM!!

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  22. Sam, I absolutely consider soup a dinner with or without a salad. We do it often in the winter. Many times, we'll have soup and slice of pizza. But we are small eaters. so many people nowadays eat large.

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  23. Sam - I adore soup and would have it more often, but my husband is one of those who doesn't consider it a meal. I've tried to convince him, but it never works.

    I love that you use tomato paste when sauteeing your veggies. That is a tip I will remember. Your split pea soup looks gorgeous.

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  24. We eat soup for dinner all the time. And I agree that browning your veggies does add much better flavor. I like you idea of adding the tomato paste to the vegetables...I am going to do that the next pot I make. Thanks for the recipe today. Looks delicious!

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  25. Oh, to be there, buying that bread. I have not browned veggies before preparing soup, this is a great tip, makes sense!

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  26. Yep, soup for dinner and this one looks great. I will be having it soon!

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  27. I absolutely consider soup - by itself or with salad and/or bread - dinner! Excellent tips for developing flavor in a soup as well.

    P.S. I was able to get the recipe for that blueberry vinaigrette you asked about from the chef who made it. I posted it on my Eggplant to Go facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eggplant-To-Go/188874297804112?ref=ts). If you have any problems finding it, just let me know, and I'll get it to you some other way. Thanks for spurring me to request it from that chef - I'm glad to have it too!

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  28. Um, YES, soup is totally a dinner! And it's a FABULOUS dinner!! Complete with baguette, lots of butter, and a lovely glass o' vino. Really life doesn't get any better... unless you end the meal with chocolate :)

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  29. I would definitely consider soup to be dinner but then again since I am British dinner is supper and lunch is dinner:D

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  30. Soup and salad is yummy, and we have been doing it a lot this winter. MY husband is a real meat and potatoes guy, but he LOVES a good bowl of soup.
    I love the idea of sauteing the veggies first......I will try that.

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  31. Soup is my favorite meal, as long as it's served with good crusty bread. I love that you use ham as a garnish - so fun and tasty!

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  32. I have a husband like that, someone who needs his chunk of meat for dinner. I serve cheese or cold cuts on the side with soup and salad, just so he can fill his tank.

    I love your idea of serving soup in cups as appetizer.
    Also, sauteeing the veggies is immensely more flavorful and adds depth to the soup.
    \
    Great recipe!

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  33. Soup is a meal in our household, but for my husband, we always have to have something to accompany it. Our favorite is panini. :-)

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  34. Soup is an excellent meal for dinner! In fact, think of those soups that contain vegetables, beans and meat and pasta. That's a full meal - it's just arranged a little differently than it would be served on a dinner plate.

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  35. I love Split Pea Soup but I've never made it. I think that it's time that I did!

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  36. 100% Soup can be dinner! Those who do not think so - have never had the right kind of soup - like the one you have here!

    I have friends who say their husband would, "never eat a sandwich for dinner" ...makes me LOVE MY husband even more! :)

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  37. I think soup can be served as dinner. Though, I have to say it definately depends on what kind of soup.
    Some soups are light and not as filling as some others.
    I think this split pea soup can be dinner. Its creamy and sounds very filling- delicious!
    xx,
    Tammy

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  38. I found your blog by hitting “next blog” and I have to say, #1 yes, soup is dinner! And #2 I am a fishaterian and I have been looking for a split pea soup I can make (I LOVE the stuff) reading over your recipe I was excited to see I would just need to switch out one ingredient!
    There is nothing wrong with dreaming! ;)
    Thanks!
    Sammie

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  39. wonderful soup and i think it can be a meal if its healthy loaded with protein and veggies
    oh I love French bread i wish I could have some as well :-)

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  40. if the soup is hearty, and has bread along side, its totally a meal. with that said, i love soup, and can eat it morning day or night.

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  41. This is an excellent hearty and delicious soup! I would definitely have it for dinner by itself, and a delicious slice of bread is a bonus too :)

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  42. My husband and I do enjoy soup for supper, Sam. I make all my soups from scratch so that I can control the salt content. We favor rich heat soups full of pre-roasted vegetables and fresh beans and I often add rice, pasta or grains so it really becomes a full meal when served with a fruity salad and bread. It's one of our favorite meals! We love pea soup -- yours looks delicious!

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  43. Oh I often make soup for dinner- especially when the weather is cold. There is nothing more satisfying and comforting than a bowl of soup.
    Your split pea soup looks scrumptious, Sam!
    Blessings,
    Catherine

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  44. Here's one more vote - YES!!! Soup makes a great dinner, especially in the winter! It's one of my favorites, and I want a baguette from that cute French guy too. Thanks for the tip about browning the vegetables!

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  45. I'll serve soup quite often at our table...however, Hubby, certainly doesn't consider it as a meal in itself. I certainly do...especially if I've had two big bowls of it...I'm stuffed. Well, alright...maybe there's still place for a tiny piece of dessert ;o)

    Thanks for sharing your comforting post and recipe Sam ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

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  46. Oh yes, Sam, soup is often dinner. My sister makes a killer pea soup....mother and dad loved to eat it too. I made it for them often, using my sister's recipe. My tummy doesn't tolerate it well, unfortunately.

    The most fun soup I've ever been served was cold strawberry soup at an engagement party. (I think I've posted it...would have to go back and look! If I haven't I will.) Need I add that pink was the bride's signature color!

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  47. Hi Sam, Yes soup is dinner and a whole lot more! I could make a pot of split pea soup and live on it for a few days, no problem! It is so hearty and delicious. Add a piece of bread and it's down right filling!
    Have a great week;-)

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  48. I consider soup as a meal and so does my husband as long as it is hearty enough after a long working day. This is a soup I know my parents would enjoy so I just might make them some very soon.

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  49. Sam,
    Your split pea soup looks delicious. Yes, we often have just soup and sandwiches. What a wonderful meal on cold winter days.

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  50. I consider soup to be a meal, my husband considers it a starter. I agree with you about browning vegetables. Just like with meat, this is where much of the savory flavors are derived.

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  51. We are soup lovers in our home, and we consider it a delicious dinner.

    And, I love split pea soup, but it is one of the few soups my husband does like.

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  52. I have never had this before, but I love soups. Thank you for sharing this recipe, it looks delicious...!

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  53. I eat soup A LOT for dinner. It's one of my favorite foods ever. Your soup looks ammmazzing. Split pea soup is my absolute favorite. I've never put tomato paste in my split pea soup before. I'll have to try that! Your recipe sounds so good :)

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  54. Soup and salad is definitely supper at our house quite often. Your split pea soup looks so thick and hearty. Makes me want some. Great tips for extracting the most flavor from soup.

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  55. Wow. Lots of comments! We have soup as a meal all the time. Sometimes (mostly with dried bean soups) I brown my vegetables. Have not done that with chicken soups. I will give this a try.

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  56. This looks so rich and delicious! I've been cooking a lot of soups lately, so comforting.

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  57. We often have soup for dinner. Last night it was tomato and roasted red pepper with a grilled cheese! Thankfully we both love soup! I find it's hearty and filling!

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  58. Well thank you for the sauteeing tip... I have many times just chopped the veggies and dumped them in, but now that you mention it, I can see that the richness would be imparted. I think I will never just chop and dump again!

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  59. i'm finally getting my husband convinced that soup can be considered a worthy meal! especially a soup like this, i just love split pea soup!

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  60. I think soup can definitely be served for dinner, however, tell that to my husband!
    Like Kenny Bania said in Seinfeld "Jerry, soup is not a meal!".

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  61. I think it depends on the soup, but I would absolutely consider it dinner, if it was robust and served with some chunky bread. A broth, perhaps not so much. Mmm, that pea soup is making me pine for winter... (OKay, I did NOT just write that out loud!)

    Robyn x

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  62. Perfect! Yes we have been having soup for dinner every single night since the beginning of winter and we love it! I adore split pea soup and love your recipe!

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Sam