Even pea soup is better with bacon!
My mom’s pea soup is a definite go to on cool spring or fall evenings. It’s thick and hearty and super easy to make. It’s also my go to using up that ham bone whenever I have one sitting around. Well as you well know, I made this amazing Apple Cinder Soaked Ham with Pan Dripping Gravy for Easter. I took the leftover bone and popped it in the freezer until I could get around to making pea soup. I realize there are so many things I could do with that bone, but pea soup is always my number one thought.
So why peas? I think peas are my number one favorite spring vegetable. They are sweet, filling and can be used so many different ways. It is almost impossible to find english peas in the shell in my area. There is one vendor at one farmers market near me that has them maybe two times a year. I am so picky about those few peas, I just cook them in a little butter and serve them with salt and pepper.
If I have to I use frozen peas for most things since I find the canned ones a bit too mushy sometimes. Thankfully for pea soup, I have always used dried peas which are available year round. It’s kind of my attempt to cure my pea craving without hunting all over southern California at the drop of a hat. On the other side of the coin, after I make the soup it is really easy to store. I usually make a big batch then freeze individual portions so I can take them out when I want.
I mentioned this was inspired my mom’s pea soup while growing up. I have to mention that her soup was not my favorite dinner growing up though. I remember Halloween one year when I was about ten or eleven years old. My mom had made pea soup for an early dinner before we went trick or treating . Let me tell you… as an ten or eleven year old, eating anything before you go trick or treating is a challenge because all your brain is screaming is CANDY!!!!
So anyways, we all sat down to the table and my mom dished up this creamy pea soup which was probably absolutely delicious. I could not eat one bite. I mean I was staring in my bowl trying to figure out a way – ANY way – that I could get rid of the soup so I could get out the door in my costume faster. I was eating spoonfuls like a bird, cringing at every swallow. It took forever and my bowl was still not empty.
I was hoping my parents would just let me go trick or treating without finishing, since it was Halloween and all. No such luck. I was told to finish my bowl before I could go out, or I would sit there until I finished. That was the longest twenty minutes of my life. I remember finally shoveling soup into my mouth and swallowing as fast as I could. Eventually I got a huge bag of candy and years of hatred towards pea soup.
Thankfully that hatred did not transition to my adult years. I can safely say that most of every year there is at least a bag of frozen pea soup in my freezer just waiting to be heated up on a cold, lazy night.
- 1 pound bacon
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup carrots, diced
- 1 pound bag dried split peas
- 1 smoked ham hock or leftover ham bone
- 8-10 cups water
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large soup pot over low heat, cook the bacon strips in batches until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels. Keep about 3 tablespoons of bacon grease at the bottom of the pot, discard the rest.
- Turn up the heat to medium high and add the onion and carrot. Stir until translucent about 5 minutes. Add the dried peas and ham hock or bone to the pot. Cover with 8 cups of water. Stir then let come to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let the soup simmer and hour to an hour and a half until thickened and creamy. If soup seems too thick add more water and let simmer a few minutes more.
- Remove ham hock or bone, cut off all the meat, chop and return to the pot. Discard the bone. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and serve with whole bacon strips or chop bacon and crumble on top.