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Split Pea Soup

1 1/2 cups dried split peas, rinsed and picked over to remove stones
5 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ham hock

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot.

Add the onions, pepper and salt. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes more, being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the peas, water, bay leaf and ham hock. Bring to boil and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for an hour and a half.

Remove the ham hock and bay leaf.

Transfer half of the soup into a large bowl and set aside.

Puree the remaining soup with an immersion blender or in a food processor or blender.

Combine the pureed and non-pureed soup in the stock pot and reheat. If it's too thick, add more water a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Pull pieces of meat from the ham hock and add to the soup.

Ladle the soup into a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil, top with croutons and serve.