Kickass Pea Soup


There’s a place in town that makes a great pea soup. Okay, I know, it’s just pea soup… but there’s an incredible warmth, body and texture to that soup. (It’s also fun that it coagulates when it cools, and forms fleleh too.) My mom made a great one with oxtails for flavoring. Not having oxtails and being on a tight budget, I felt like improvising.

I don’t know what drives folks to make arcane recipes when simple works. I’ve found recipes for split peas with the following ingredients:

  • Evaporated milk
  • Spaghetti
  • Instant minced onion
  • Croutons
  • Celery sticks
  • Green food coloring
  • Chicken bouillon cubes
  • Instant bouillon granules



  • 2 lbs. dried split peas
  • 1-1/2 lbs. carrots
  • Dealer’s choice: 1 lb. bacon or  1/4C olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • Take your pick: 8C of water or 4C water and 1qt. low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1T black pepper
  • 2T paprika
  • 4 bay leaves


  1. Check the peas carefully for stones and  then wash the peas thoroughly (dirt is nice, but it doesn’t belong in soup)
  2. Chop the onion
  3. Crush the garlic cloves & mince
  4. If you’re using bacon, toss it into a 5qt. pot with the onions. If you’re going veggie, heat the olive oil to the smoke point, then toss in the onions
  5. Stir until onions are coated in grease/oil, then lid for 5 minutes, stirring to keep things from burning
  6. Add 6 cups water, the peas, the carrots and the bay leaves
  7. Bring to a roiling boil for five minutes
  8. Add the pepper & paprika
  9. Keep at boil, stirring every 3-5 minutes so nothing burns on the bottom for 30 minutes
  10. Bring it down to a simmer. Stir every 10 minutes, for another 40-50 minutes

Because of the specific gravity of the peas, it’ll look like soup on top and goop on the bottom. Be one with the pot; it’s fine. As the soup cools, the liquids will be absorbed by the peas.

First aid: If it’s starting to look too thick, don’t be shy about adding a few more cups of water. Worst case: it’ll boil off.

Serves:12-14 servings


Prep time: 10 minutes. Elapsed time: 90 minutes.