Vase fillers used to be all I thought those pretty little split peas were good for until I was at a wine dinner and was served split pea soup. Boy was I ever wrong!!!! In the words of mi little amiga Dora the Explorer “Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum! Delicicoso!!!!” Now that I know how great it is, I order it any time I see it on a menu and the time has now come to make it on my own. Until today I have been very hesitant to use dry beans. Not sure if I just thought it was such a process to soak the beans and never bothered to look at exactly how split pea soup is made, but my trip to Publix today had me singing a different tune. It isn’t often that I am able to wander around the grocery store by myself and sadly the most convenient store to us is Walmart, so I am usually in and out as quickly as possible. Now, I’m not hatin’ on Wally World because it has been good to me over the years and was really the only option I had for many years, but the Publix is not even in the same stratosphere as Walmart. “My name is Amanda and I am a diet cokaholic.” and for that reason Publix ranks supreme in my eyes because they HAVE-DIET COKE-ON-TAP! The only thing that could get better than that would be wine samples, but I am pretty darn happy with my DC on the rocks while I grocery shop. Okay, so anyway, no husband, no child, no agenda, no time constraints rendered me a Publix wanderer. I started at the soda fountain (obviously) and then just wandered my little way around the store picking up whatever unnecessary item I could find and put it in my cart. After my Boar’s Head deli purchase, I grabbed a package of Boar’s Head Pancetta with no real plan for it, but just happy to get it since I run across it quite often in recipes and I just can’t get it at my usual grocery stop. I picked up some $8 cheeses (because specialty cheese is just too cool) and the most amazing Brownie Brittle and then finally ($85 later) left the specialty/gourmet section and moved onto the regular groceries which included a bag of split peas and some ground turkey. My favorite part of my grocery wandering adventure was the cute checker, who so sweetly apologized for “interrupting my daydream” when it was my turn to check out. (No wonder I was getting weird looks.)
I realize this entire post is pretty much one big nonsensical ramble, but I’m sitting at home with no child and no husband and no plans and no schedule, so this girl is quite out of sorts. I guess I should reel it all in by saying that once I saw the split peas then I suddenly had use for the pancetta. The most recent split pea soup I had was at a super cool event called Savor Nashville where some of the country’s best chefs come together for a dinner collaboration with delicious food, wine and great music by some of the best songwriters. That particular split pea soup dish had a meaty, salty component that I wanted to emulate. I researched LOTS of split pea recipes, but just couldn’t come up with one that reminded me of the one I had at Savor. All the recipes called for carrots, but I had parsnips on hand. Likewise they all called for red potatoes and I had sweet potatoes, so I did a little swap-a-roo and instead of carrots used the parsnips and got my sweet from those yummy potatoes on the counter. Trying to think of another sweet but savory component, I remembered the bunches of sage that I had hanging to dry from this summer’s sage crop and decided to add a little to the dish. Never one to skip the thyme, I added that as well. I saw a recipe that called for cumin, which was definitely unexpected, but threw some in as well. The recipes all called for celery stalk, so I just used a little celery salt. The pancetta was a perfect salty component to the sweet and savory soup as well as the parmesan crisp that gave it a great crunchy layer without having to mess with croutons. All in all I would call my split pea soup a split pea success. So now that I have made it through this post an hour later, I will logoff and resume my daydreaming position on the couch. I may even take a little nap. Adios, amigos!!
- 2 cups split peas, rinsed
- 4 oz diced pancetta
- 1 parsnip, chopped
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 small sweet potato, diced
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 tsp fresh (or dried) thyme
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- salt & pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese
- In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Cook pancetta until crispy. Remove pancetta from pan and add onions, garlic, and parsnips. Saute until tender.
- In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat chicken broth over low heat.
- Add sauteed vegetables, split peas and potatoes.
- Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. Add sage, thyme, cumin and celery salt. Let simmer for 1 hour or until peas are tender.
- In small batches, pour mixture into food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Serve with parmesan crisp and top with pancetta.
- Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Place cheese 1 tbsp at a time on cookie sheet. Spread cheese to thin and form a circle. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.