Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Vegan Split Pea Soup

This isn't the first time I've made vegan split pea soup, but I didn't get around to blogging it in the past. Let me start by saying that never, not in a million years, would I have guessed that split pea soup would taste good without ham. But I found some meat-free recipes and gave them a try. What a hit! Even the kids love it! There's lots of flavor to be added by browning the vegetables before adding the split peas and stock, and adding fresh thyme, as well as some really flavorful vegetable bouillon (I used a few spoonfuls of jarred Better Than Bouillon, which I absolutely adore), and the meat isn't even missed. I've seen other recipes that call for adding a touch of curry powder, which I think would be delicious, but this soup is so good as-is, that I hate to mess with it.

The last time I made this, we ate so much that I extended the batch by adding in some more water, the few split peas I had left, and some red lentils I happened to have on hand. This can truly be one of those never-ending soups, where you just keep adding ingredients as needed to extend the servings. Both split peas and red lentils cook up very quickly, too. Perfect!

When my brother was in preschool, his class wrote a cookbook...you know, one of those fun cookbooks where the kids dictate recipes for their favorite foods to the teachers, which are then typed up and put into a cookbook for parents. They're full of all kinds of hilarious instructions, like heating the oven to anywhere from 20 degrees to 2000 degrees, and roasting turkeys for 15 minutes. I love them! The recipe my brother gave was one he came up with on his own (ever the innovator): split pea soup bread. He called for putting a thick slice of fresh french bread (my mom made the best!) in the bottom of a bowl, then smothering it with split pea soup. It's delicious, and I highly recommend it if you're so inclined. I think it would also be great if you first toasted the bread and rubbed it with some garlic, sort of like a giant crouton, french onion soup style. Delicious!

No pictures tonight, because we devoured this before I thought to pick up my camera. Split pea soup isn't the most attractive dish to begin with, though, so I think it'll be ok.

Vegan Split Pea Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 very large carrot (or several small), peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 lb dried split peas
10 cups water
2 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable base (or 2 vegetable bouillon cubes)

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add onion, carrot and celery. Cook and stir for several minutes, until vegetables are softened and a deep golden brown. Add thyme and split peas. Cook and stir two minutes. Add water and bouillon base. Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. When peas are tender to your liking, remove from heat, dish up and serve.