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Split Pea Soup

I loved split pea soup as I was growing up, but could never get it right until I parted with tradition and left out the ham. I think it comes out much better using a vegetable stock. This split pea soup is meatless and fatless. It is everything I ever wanted in a split pea soup. The cilantro gives it a fantastic fresh flavor. Replace it with parsley if you don’t like cilantro. This soup is better the second day. Especially if it’s a cold, rainy day.

  • 1 lb. split peas
  • Stock:
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 large onion or 1 large leek, cut up (if using the leek, wash it very well after pulling it apart)
  • 3-4 carrots, cut up
  • Stems from a bunch of cilantro or parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 Tbs. mixed peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • Soup:
  • 1 rib celery, sliced into narrow, short sticks
  • 1 green onion, sliced fine
  • 20 sprigs cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 Tbs. Tabasco green pepper sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Sort through the split peas and remove any foreign matter. Rinse the peas in a strainer, then put them into a bowl with about gallon of water. Soak overnight, or at least four hours.

2. Combine all the stock ingredients with three quarts of water. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook for about an hour. Strain the stock into a clean pot, and discard the stock vegetables.

3. Pour off the soaking water from the peas, and add the peas to the pot of vegetable stock, along with all the other soup ingredients. Bring to a light boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for two hours.

4. Pass the soup through a food mill, or push through a coarse sieve. You can also strain the soup and process the solid parts with a food processor, stopping short of a puree. Add the near-pureed peas to the soup. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste.

Serves eight.

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