I admit it; I'm not really a fan of peas in their standard form and find them almost annoying. Those pesky, little green balls just roll around your plate, eluding your fork with every attempt at capturing a bite. And if you happen to have them on your plate in a restaurant, you have to figure out how to tactfully use your knife or finger (gasp) to corral a sufficient amount onto your fork.
What I can get on board with is eating my peas in the form of soup. There is something very comforting about a warm bowl of split pea soup and a nice hunk of warm sourdough bread. If you've ever driven I-5 in California traveling between the north and south parts of the state, you know what I mean. Pretty much everyone I know who has wearily traveled that route has stopped at Pea Soup Andersen's at least once for a bowl of their split pea soup. And most make it a regular pit-stop on their journeys. Thus the inspiration for today's recipe ... a nod to a Central California classic.
Savory Split Pea Soup with Ham and Pancetta
from Food to Live By
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced pancetta (about 3 ounces)
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 celery rib, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
2 small carrots, finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried split green peas, rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup diced smoked ham, such as Black Forest (about 5 ounces)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry (optional)
fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until it softens and begins to color, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and bay leaf and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
- Add the split peas, stock and 3 1/2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer slowly, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
- Add the salt and thyme and continue cooking, partially covered, until the split peas are tender and have begun to break down slightly, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. If you are not planning on serving the soup at this time, let it cool to room temperature. It can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 3 days or frozen for 2 months.
- Add the ham and let simmer until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the vinegar and sherry, if using. Serve the soup hot, sprinkled with thyme leaves.
Weight Watchers = 13 points per serving