Ultimate Split Pea Soup

Sat. January 1, 2011 12:00 AM
by Brad Mercil

There are some recipes that really seem to touch a spot in your heart and soul. For me, Split Pea Soup is one of those recipes. My grandfather on my father's side loved his split pea soup. I can remember my mother making split pea soup for my grandfather. You could see the smile on his face when she told him what it was and he knew that for the next couple of days, he was going to be eating one of his favorites. Years later, I made split pea soup for my grandfather as well and gave it to him for Christmas he had that same smile.

I have played around with my Split Pea Soup recipe for years and found that there are a few ingredients that really add depth of flavor. Smoked pork loin will make your soup much more complex and richer than a leftover ham bone or pork hocks. Celery, carrots, fresh italian parsley and dill weed are the other ingredients that step up this recipe. They all contribute to a flavor profile that results in a soup that really satisfies you on a cold winter night.

Now don't get me wrong, if you have a leftover ham bone or pork hocks your pea soup is not going to turn out bad. You can easily make a few changes. If you have a leftover ham bone, be sure to trim some off excess fat from the bone if it looks like there is too much. Don't trim all of the fat because pork fat is one of those magic ingredients. You want just enough fat in the soup to give it that nice rich flavor and texture. Pork hocks are a judgement call. Usually, they have a much higher fat to meat ratio. So you'll need to throw in more pork hocks to make your soup meaty. But this can often result in too much fat and too much smokey flavor. So be careful with pork hocks.

When I make split pea soup, I always soak the peas for eight to ten hours. Then I thoroughly rinse the peas. The soaking helps the peas breakdown faster when you are cooking the soup. I also start by putting the smoked pork loin in the bottom of my soup pot, then add the peas, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Usually in one or two hours, the pork loin will float to the top. Then I remove the pork loin to a cutting board and chop it into bite sized pieces, removing some of the fat but not all. Then I return the meat to the soup pot for more cooking.

One other techniuqe I want to share is try serving this soup over orzo pasta. Place a few scoops of pasta in a pasta bowl then ladle on some pea soup and top it with some good parmasean cheese. I can guarantee you that this will quickly become one of your comfort food favorites for cold winter nights.

So let's get started!


Split Pea Soup with Smoked Pork Loin



4 cups of split peas soaked overnight in water and thoroughly rinsed
2 - 3 lbs. of smoked pork loin, ham bone or pork hocks
3 to 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 medium to large onion chopped
3 to 4 stalks of celery with tops cut in thirds
3 to 4 medium carrots sliced
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 tsp dillweed
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsely roughly chopped or parsley flakes
8-10 cups filtered water


Place the pork loin in the bottom of a stock pot. Add peas, garlic, onion, celery, carrots and water. Add spices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour or until the smoked pork loin floats to the surface. Remove the pork loin and chop into bite sized pieces. Remove celery stalks and discard, add pork loin back to soup. Simmer for another 2 hours.

Add more water depending on how thick or thin you prefer your soup.

Serve with crackers, crusty bread or over Orzo pasta. Soup freezes well up to 3 months.