This dish is full of nostalgia for me. As far back as I can remember, my nana and pop were cooking up this thick and hearty, vivid green soup and – even though it was loaded with vegetables – I ate it up with gusto as a kid.
My mother continued this tradition, making it on the regular, and actually it never really broke stride until I moved away. What I’m saying is that I’ve eaten this LITERALLY MILLIONS of times. ;)
Well I’m happy to say that I have finally taken the time to make it on my own, and it should probably come as no surprise that, even the first time making it, it was just about as natural to cook as any other dish in my seasoned repertoire. It’s kind of in my blood, after all. (Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right…)
Of course, like most dishes, I have taken liberties when reinterpreting it into my own version. I’ve come to recognize in my adult years that I happen to love ‘peasant food’. Even though I’m kind of a foodie, I’m not as into upscale ‘cuisine’ as much as dishes rooted in common, accessible ingredients. I’ll pass truffle oil and caviar for plain ol items like cabbage and fresh cracked pepper any day.
So this dish has that, and my version even amps up these qualities a bit. I used mostly off-cuts of veggies like broccoli and cauliflower stems, un-skinned turmeric, and of course the base ingredient, split peas along with some (formerly frozen) whole peas for garnish.
There is quite a few things that are optional, even though I didn’t mark them all this way. The essentials are dry split peas (they come in green or yellow, at least), broth or bouillon or dry flake flavoring, your favorite veggies, and some aromatics (such as garlic, onion, or what I used in their stead, fresh turmeric and ginger).
My nan’s version used smoked ham to impart a smoky flavor. In previous iterations I have used tempeh bacon, but this time I took a shortcut and just put a few dashes of liquid smoke. Our smoky marinated tempeh or tofu would also be perfect, or another shortcut would be to put a heavy hand of smoked paprika, or chipotle, or just something smokey. If you don’t have anything to bring this flavor, it will still be great.
It’s also worth mentioning that this dish is meant to come out pretty thick, and could perhaps more accurately be called a stew than a soup. And it will definitely thicken even more as it cools. Don’t be surprised if you pull it out of the fridge for a reheat the next day and it’s so solid it won’t even pour. You can just add a little water or broth back in to break up the consistency if you’d rather it more liquidy.
You’ll notice that I used a split pea soup mix which is dry flakes of peas, carrots, salt and spices that I got in the bulk section of my local health food store. If you can find this, it’s a nice shortcut, but it is by no means necessary. It just serves to bulk up the texture and flavor. You can compensate by using more split peas and bouillon/seasoning.
You also may like to blend half or more of the soup after cooking if the peas and veggies aren’t broken down enough for your liking. Experiment, and feel free to email us if you want some recommendations.
Here’s the third plus generation version of this recipe. Enjoy!
3rd Generation Split Pea Soup
• 2 cups dry Split Peas
• 6 cups Vegetable Broth OR Water + 2 tablespoons Bouillon
• 1 strip of dry Kombu seaweed (optional)
• thumb-size piece of fresh Turmeric
• thumb-size piece of fresh Ginger
• 4 medium Carrots
• 4 medium stalks Celery
• 1/2 head Cauliflower
• 1/2 head Broccoli
• 1/4 head Cabbage
• 2 teaspoons Black Pepper
• 1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
• 2 cups dry Split Pea Soup Mix flakes OR 2 extra tablespoons Bouillon
• 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
• 1 teaspoon Salt
In a mesh strainer, rinse dry split peas under cold water, then add to a soup pot.
Add vegetable broth or water and stir. Put on high heat until it begins to boil
Once boiling, reduce to medium or medium-low heat, just enough to keep a simmer. If using water instead of broth, add bouillon and kombu once it heats up and stir it in. Take note of the time. We need the peas to cook for around 40-50 minutes total.
Mince turmeric and ginger and add to pot and stir.
Chop carrots and celery and add to pot and stir.
Chop cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage and add half to the pot and stir. We’ll add the rest later so there are some more al dente vegetables.
Season the pot with black pepper and (optional) crushed red pepper for a little spice and stir.
About 10-minutes prior to peas being done, add in the rest of the cruciferous vegetables and stir.
About 2-minutes prior to peas being done, add split pea soup mix or extra bouillon and stir.
Once the peas and vegetables are cooked, turn off heat, and add liquid smoke, and finish with salt. You can add extra seasoning at this time, if desired, such as more black pepper and other spices.
For the smokey element, you have options. Traditionally it uses a piece of smoked ham. If you would rather skip the meat, I recommend using either smoked tempeh / tempeh bacon, marinated tempeh/tofu, (real or fake) bacon bits, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, chipotle seasoning, etc.
Take your own liberties on the vegetables. Potatoes are quite common, as well as onions and garlic. You could also add common soup veggies such as parsnips and turnips.
Some garnish options are reconstituted/thawed/fresh peas, fresh parsley, thyme, etc.
Some people like to blend half or more of the we soup to give it a more smooth or broken-down consistency.
The piece of kombu just adds another level of flavor, but it’s relatively subtle. Feel free to leave it out, but it is nice to have this ingredient around to just add that extra flavor to soups, grains, etc while cooking. It’s good to have around, and it’s shelf life is… forever, I guess. :P After it cooks, you are welcome to remove it, or just break it apart in the soup. It’s nice to eat when cooked. It kind of has the texture of well cooked pasta.
Oh! Huge tip… take all of your vegetable refuse from this dish, put it in a pot, top it with water, add a hit of salt, and boil it for about 15-20 minutes on the stove. Then strain it through a mesh strainer into a bowl, pour it into a jar, and keep that in the fridge. Bam, you got veggie broth for the next day.
The soup came out really tasty, with a beautiful hearty texture and color.
I am stoked that I have access to the dry soup flakes for extra flavor and thickness, though I will not get dependent on them, as I know it’s not the most common thing to find.
I would have liked to add tempeh bacon or marinated tempeh instead or in addition to the liquid smoke, just because I would have liked to have a little extra protein, though I didn’t exactly ‘miss’ it.
Please make this! You and yours will love it. It’s such a deep and nourishing dish. It’s definitely soul food for the Lewis family and many who have graced our household, and will continue to live on, as this recipe is worthy of being shared and passed down.
And if/WHEN you make it, please post it and tag us or send it to us. If there are any issues, feel free to reach out and we’ll do our best to resolve them. We want you to have awesome food experiences as a result of visiting our blog and media.
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