Spring is here.
Or so they say. I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t been outside in two days. Currently, my husband and I are quarantined due to two different ailments, both plague-like and incapacitating.
My windows are open, so I can see the sun and feel the breeze. The weather seems to be perfectly springlike, but like I said before, I’m stuck inside, sick. And not just oh-I-feel-yucky sick. No, no, no – I’m why-does-it-hurt-to-wear-clothes-and-why-aren’t-there-more-episodes-of-downton-abbey sick.
While watching reruns of the aforementioned Downton Abbey I noticed Daisy, the scullery maid shelling peas. “Peas!” I thought. “What a quintessential spring ingredient! I would love some bright green pea soup with a dollop of creme fraiche right now.” Upon perusing my own kitchen, I was disappointed in my options. Not only was my pantry devoid of a butler, it also had no fresh spring peas. However, I did find dried split peas.
I attempted to make a healthy, vegan split pea soup with local carrots and parsnips, but once I realized I had a slab of bacon in the fridge, I got completely sidetracked. Before I knew it, bacon sizzled in the bottom of my soup pot, enhancing the flavor of this smoky soup. How could I resist?
Smoky Split Pea Soup
4 strips bacon, cut into large pieces (optional – just use a tablespoon of olive oil instead)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
3 carrots, diced
4 parsnips, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon marjoram leaves
1 bay leaf
1 pound split peas, rinsed
8 cups vegetable stock
In a large soup pot, cook bacon until crisp over medium-high heat. Remove bacon from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain off some of the fat in the pot, if you wish.
Add the onion to the remaining fat and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, onions, celery, and parsnips and cook for four minutes. Add the salt, crushed red pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, marjoram, and bay leaf. Give it a good stir and cook for one minute. Add the stock and split peas. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until the peas are soft.
Remove the bay leaf from the soup. Using an immersion blender (this is optional), blend the soup to desired consistency (I like mine thick and a bit chunky). Top with crumbled bacon and serve.