Split Pea Soup

One of the things I love about food is it's ability to create emotions and stories (well I guess that's two).  I'm sure we can all recall those certain foods, which caused stomach upset.  Or better yet are the foods we ate once and have endlessly tried to recreate or capture that moment again.

Split Pea was the former in my food story recollection bank for many years.  It was New Year's Eve and I was seven years old.  Our church had a Talent Show and being the center of attention seeker I am, I had a performance in mind.  I practiced the song endlessly in my room, in the car and anywhere life found me.  Well, wouldn't you know it, come New Year's Eve Eve...I came down with the stomach bug.  No one else in my family did.

And somehow our good family friend offered to have me stay at their house, so my mom could attend the event.  I was in the second day of sickness, so I wasn't feeling as bad or in need of my mom.  Although I was sad about missing out on the Talent Show, I was happy to spend the night at Mr & Mrs Sievert's house.  That is until she said she made some split pea soup, which was rare because I was not a picky eater.  However, this was green mush that looked like what comes out of a body, not to be consumed.  It tainted my view of split pea for sometime.  But I'm glad to say that it all changed when my housemate made it in college using some ham from their family farm (does it get any better?).

What are some of your food stories or emotions?  Ones you've run away from, ones that resurfaced (like the split pea) and you enjoyed, or ones you've tried to recreate?

Split Pea Soup (printable recipe)

This is such a forgiving soup.  If you want to use some chicken or vegetable broth instead, go ahead.  If you want more vegetables or less, go ahead.  You can make it vegetarian easily, but I would recommend using some or all vegetable broth in place of the water, in order to give it that extra depth of flavor.  If you are needing to serve more than 10 people, simply increase the split peas and water amount (ratio of water to split peas--2 or 2 1/2 cups to 1 cup).


  • 1 yellow onion, medium chop
  • 3 cups cubed ham, (I bought ham steaks from Costco, which is sold in three round slabs, 98% fat free but tasty)
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups yukon potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes or chunks
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups dried split peas
  • 8-10 cups cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • In a dutch oven or large stock pan, add cubed ham & chopped onions over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally.  If your meat or onion is sticking to the pan, then add olive oil.  I didn't need any, because of the condensation from the meat & onion.  Cook until onions are softened and the some of the ham browns a bit.
  • Add minced garlic, cook for 30 seconds while stirring.  Then, add the carrots, potatoes & salt and cook for 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Add the dried split peas and pour 6 cups of cold water on top.  If the peas & vegetables are not completely covered by water, keep adding one more cup of cold water until they are covered.  Add the bay leaves.  Cover & cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soup begins to bubble.  Once it bubbles, turn heat to low and simmer--keeping it covered.  You can still stir occasionally and checking to see if you need to add more water.  It will take about an hour to an hour and a half to cook to completion.
  • The soup will be done once the split peas turn to mush.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Discard the bay leaves and serve warm.  This makes enough for 8-10 servings, so leftovers are a given for a family of four.  Once the soup is refrigerated, it will congeal and you can simply add some water to reconstitute it.