Happy first day of spring! It's pretty gloomy here, with gray skies and a little rain, but that's nothing a little warm soup can't fix, right? I made this delicious split pea and bacon soup for Lizzy's birthday party, and it was a hit! The recipe came, once again, from one of my very favorite cookbooks, Irish Traditional Cooking. Seriously, this book is a gem! I'd never had split pea soup before I bought the book, and decided to try it on a lark a few years ago. I was amazed at how delicious it is! It has become an integral part of our St. Patrick's Day celebration, and even the littles love it!
I've made the soup with both fresh peas and dried split peas, and I can't decide which I like more. They give the soup such different textures that it's almost like two different soups! I kind of lean toward the dried peas approach because it tastes more homey to me, but it is much quicker to make with fresh peas. So I guess if you have the time, try the dried peas, and if not the fresh peas work great!
adapted from Irish Traditional Cooking
12 ounces fresh or frozen peas, OR 4-6 ounces dried peas, soaked overnight in cold water
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
5-6 cups chicken stock
salt, pepper, and sugar to taste
In a soup pot, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the bacon and fry 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then add the peas and let the soup simmer until the peas are cooked. If you're using fresh peas, this may take 15-20 minutes. Dried peas will take longer, usually around 45 minutes for me. Puree using a blender or immersion blender, or mash with a potato masher (I like a chunkier soup, so I usually just use the masher). Taste and correct seasoning as desired.
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