Thursday, May 2, 2013

Split Pea Soup for a Rainy Spring Day

Spring is incurably fickle. She teases us into believing she's really arrived, with a few days of sunshine, a pop or two of daffodils and tulips,  then, WHAM!  A blast of cold air, a cloudburst, and gloomy, gray skies.


But my silver lining in a rainy spring day is that it begs for soup to be made. I never need an excuse for soup, though.  Any day of the year, any season, I'm soup ready. I (humbly) pride myself on being quite good at reprising just about any leftover into a great soup. (Maybe a frittata.)

So when fickle spring handed out yet another dose of wet and windy, I turned on the stove to make split pea soup.  Split pea soup happens to be one soup that is not really made from leftovers, though, except for a ham bone saved from Easter, perhaps. But it's rich and hearty and oh-so-warming.

Not a very pretty soup, though, which is probably why this Martha Stewart version includes homemade croutons as an accessory. I declined to accessorize this soup. It's a classic that only needs a spoon.

But if my lilacs are spoiled by another cry for soup, I'll be having a few words with Mother Nature.

Split Pea Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped medium onion
4 carrots, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth
1 bag (16 ounces) green split peas, picked over and rinsed
Ham bone plus 2 cups reserved ham cut into 1/2-inch cubes

In a Dutch oven or 5-quart heavy pot with a lid, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrots, celery, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add broth, split peas, ham bone, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and partially cover; simmer until peas are soft, 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove and discard bone from soup.
Use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup. leave some chunks. (Or, working in batches, puree only 1/2 the soup in a blender and return to pot.) 
Add ham cubes, and simmer until heated through. If necessary, thin with water. Add salt and pepper to taste. (But you won't need much salt!)