The finished split pea soup. Photo: CC-thebittenword
Talk about classic. It doesn't get much more classic than pea soup. I imagine some versions of pea or bean soup must go back hundreds of years, or more. Pea soup is simple, hearty, and delicious. This version of classic split pea soup is a satisfying meal that's gluten-free, low in fat and high in flavor and nutrition. This recipe makes enough soup to serve about four to six people.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoon vegetable oil or bacon grease
1 cup chopped onion
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, halved
1 pound dried split peas
2 meaty ham hocks, rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)

Directions:
For this recipe, you may use either soaked or un-soaked peas. Just remember that un-soaked peas take about 1 to 2 hours of simmering, depending on how solid you want them, while soaked peas take about 40 minutes.

In a medium pot, saute onions in oil or bacon grease. Reduce heat to low, and add split peas, and ham hocks. Add enough water to cover ingredients, and season with salt and pepper.

Skim the foam off the top of the soup, and continue for several minutes until foam stops forming.

Cover, and simmer until the peas are soft, or until they have broken down fully, up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, so they don't stick to the pan.

Peas soak up a lot of water, so, check during the simmer to see if water has evaporated. Add more water as needed to achieve desired texture. Remember, the peas only need to be cooked until tender. Those who like a smoother, creamier texture can cook them longer until they break down.

When the peas are soft and the veggies are cooked, stir in your favorite seasonings and keep on tasting until it's just right.  Add salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and lemon juice.

Remember, when adding lemon juice, or anything acidic, do so at the very end of cooking to avoid hard, underdone peas. Once the soup has cooked just short of desired consistency, remove from heat, and let stand so it will thicken. Remove ham hocks. If desired, strip away meat, chop and add to soup.

Once the soup has thickened, it may be necessary to return it to the heat to warm briefly before serving.

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