It’s been soup weather lately—blustery, grey, and cold—and I’ve been craving split pea soup for weeks.
Split pea soup has been one of my favourites for a long time. It took me a while to warm up to, mainly because I had read James Marshall’s George and Martha too many times as a child. (It seems that picture books are a greater culinary influence on me than I had thought!) The mild-mannered hippopotamus George despises split pea soup, but is too polite to say so when his friend Martha gives it to him. He therefore pours it all in his shoes. Quite the most logical reaction, don’t you think? And also an excellent example for a five-year-old.
I’ve encountered pea soup in literature again lately, in a poem we read in my Greek class. It seems that pea soup is universally approved of in Greek literature. Perhaps George the hippopotamus would do well to take up Greek.
And someday I will give you a tripod,
a bowl to gather your food in.
Now it is still untried by fire,
but soon it will be full of pea soup—
pea soup, which all-devouring Alcman
loves to eat hot on winter days.
For he doesn’t eat sweet confections,
but seeks out common food,
like the people eat.
Who can argue with that?
Alcman’s Split Pea Soup
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.
- 1 1/2 C split green peas, soaked for 8-12 hours in 3 C water + 1 T lemon juice
- olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 C chopped parsley
- 1 tsp rosemary
- a good pinch of thyme
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Throw in the onion and carrots and saute them until the onion starts to brown ever so slightly. Add the garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, paprika, bay leaves, and salt. Stir for another few minutes, then add the peas and their soaking liquid and the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, and cook until the peas have dissolved into deliciousness, 45 minutes to an hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh bread, toast, or croutons, garnished with more parsley if you have it.