Healthy, economical pantry ingredients combine with refrigerator staples in this hearty, comforting, slow cooked soup. Makes a big batch and freezes well too.
It’s funny how tastes change. When I was little, the color and name alone were unappealing. Now, I consider split pea soup to be a soul-warming comfort food and one of my favorite soups.
The fact that this savory bowl of deliciousness is wholesome and so easy to prepare is, metaphorically speaking, icing on the cake.
Funny enough, my kids have always loved this soup. Maybe it was a boy versus girl thing, but somehow green foods conjured up images of monsters and superheroes that made them seem power-inducing and exciting. Perhaps if someone had presented this as Incredible Hulk Soup when I was little I would have come around more quickly! (I was always amazed by how the calm and mild-mannered David Banner suddenly turned green and started popping out of his clothes!)
Color and funny names aside, this soup offers added appeal based on easy advance preparation followed by hands-off cooking. If I know time will be tight, I’ll chop the veggies the day before and store them in the refrigerator with the herbs nestled on top. Then, when ready to cook, I merely transfer everything to the slow cooker and turn it on.
If you want this to be an all-day cooking affair, use the low setting. If you’re making this in the afternoon for dinner that night, high will get the job done in half the time.
The resulting batch is a big one that’s ideal for leftovers throughout the week, sharing with a friend or freezing for future meals.
What exactly are split peas?
Split peas are mature green peas that have been dried. Once dried, the outer skin of the pea is removed, and the pea is split in half at the natural split in the seed. Splitting increases the surface area of the pea. As a result, split peas do not require soaking and cook more quickly than whole dried peas and many other legumes.
Because they do not have the outer skin, split peas also break down more easily than most legumes when cooked, yielding a pureed consistency without the need of a blender.
Green and yellow split peas are simply different varieties of the seeds of the Pisum sativum L. (or field pea) plant. They have a similar nutritional content and cooking time, but yellow peas tend to have a slightly milder yet earthier flavor, while green peas are sweeter.
What are the benefits of split peas?
- Split peas are an excellent plant-base source of fiber and protein; as such, even a small portion of split peas is filling.
- These legumes are packed with energy-providing complex carbohydrates and are an excellent source of iron, potassium, zinc, phosphorous and folate.
- Split peas are naturally cholesterol-free, very low in sodium and virtually fat-free.
- Studies have shown that a diet rich in split peas and other legumes may help reduce cholesterol, hypertension, the risk of prediabetes, and may also offer significant anti-inflammatory effects.
Did you know:
Split peas are both legumes and pulses. Pulses are part of the legume family (any plants that grow in pods), but the term pulse refers only to the dry edible seed within the pod.
Garlicky, herby Homemade Parmesan Croutons ⇩⇩ are easy to make with a variety of bread and add great flavor and crunch to this soup (and the gluten-free version is equally awesome!).
I hope this is as much of a hit in your house as it is in ours. Maybe it’ll also spark some fun conversation about childhood food memories!
Don’t eat ham? If you’d like to make this soup but don’t eat ham, read the first few comments below the recipe for a variety of suggestions as to how to replace the flavor provided by the ham hock. And as always, please feel free to offer your own suggestions and check back in with a comment if you try!