Yes it is nearly summer and soup season is over until the fall, but I really wanted to sing the praises of this soup. I tried to come up with some nerdy content about the goodness of yellow peas and how they are different from green peas but I didn’t find much. I’ll just take a moment to highlight peas in general. They are such cute little veggies!
I remember frequently having peas at dinner and trying to fit one on each tine on my fork; time consuming but fun when you are seven. They are entertaining to chase around the plate and a great occupier for an early eater to practice hand, eye, and mouth coordination. Our neighbors grew peas and we used to go and pick them right off the vine and eat them in the back yard. They are so good fresh!
Peas are a starchy vegetable and therefore hold up well in cooked dishes or to top off a salad. I always keep a bag of frozen peas on hand to toss into pasta, rice or canned soups that need more vegetables. You could even float them in gelatin for a fun and festive – wait, never mind, don’t do that – I got carried away there. This summer make sure to grab them fresh when they are in season.
I always liked green pea soup, but I discovered awhile back that IKEA serves a really delicious yellow pea soup. We had always gone there for the meatballs (flat-pack furniture optional), but when I began looking for healthier options I gave the soup a try. It does go a little heavy on the salt but is still quite a satisfying bowl of goodness. I think one of the appealing things about pea soup, in general, is the thicker texture. More stew-like in consistency than a broth based soup it has a hearty and filling effect. I may be slimming down, but darn it, sometimes I just need to feel like I ate something!
I started working on my own version of the soup because a trip to IKEA from my house is a bit of a trek for lunch. So far I am getting very pleasing results with a few basic ingredients. I bought a bag of yellow split peas, and on a grey day last week, pulled them out and whipped up a batch. It took about 30 minutes to prep and then about 2 to 3 hours of simmering for the flavors to come together. Aside from the flavor I like to make soup from scratch because the recipe can be tweaked to fit the ingredients I have on hand. Homemade soup is lower fat, much less salty, and the house smells great while it is cooking.
Another highlight of this soup is the cost. Assuming you keep some herbs and oil on hand this soup costs very little to whip up. The peas were around .65 cents and the veggies were a few dollars. From one pot of soup we will get a couple of dinners and several lunches. It also freezes well so we can eat half now and half when we need a quick meal option. I wanted to point this out because I truly believe it is possible to eat healthy even when you are budgeting time and money.
The recipe below is my latest rendition. I rarely make a recipe the same way twice, partly because I like to try new things and partly because I cook based on the ingredients I have on hand. The quantities I list below are fairly accurate but I didn’t measure everything before tossing it into my pot. I apologize to those of you who are more comfortable with a more scientific approach. I encourage everyone to cook to their own taste. In that vein I would suggest if it appeals to your palate to try swapping the dill I list below for curry or even some cumin. Toss a bit in and taste, then add more to suit your taste preference.
Keep trying new things and have fun with your food. Don’t be a slave to healthy eating; love it, live it, and pass it along!
- 1 bag (1 lb) of dry yellow split peas
- 5 stalks of celery with leaves if available
- 5 carrots
- 1 yellow onion
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Dry Dill
- 1 Tablespoon of dried herb blend (i.e. Herbs de Province or Italian Herbs)
- 8 cups water
- 2½ Tablespoons of veggie base or chicken bouillon
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1½ cups of ham cubes (optional)
- Rinse the dry peas in a mesh strainer and set aside.
- In a large soup pot drizzle 2 – 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and set on medium heat.
- Peel and mince the garlic cloves.
- Wash and dice the onion, celery and carrots to around ½ or ¾ inch pieces.
- Add the vegetables to the soup pot and allow to sweat for a few minutes until the onions begin to turn translucent. Stir a few times.
- Pour in the water and add the veggie base or chicken bouillon, stir.
- Add the herbs and salt and pepper.
- If including the ham cubes add them now and give the pot one final stir.
- Turn the heat to low, pop on the lid, and allow the soup to simmer for 2 to 3 hours (stir occasionally).
- The soup is done when the vegetables are soft all the way through. It will have a rustic texture.
When reheating leftovers I recommend adding a bit of water to loosen up the texture.
If you are serving both vegetarians and omnivores use veggie base and heat the ham separately to serve on the side.