Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dad's Split Pea Soup (aka Crack Soup)

Growing up, my mom did 99% of the cooking in our house. On the rare occasion that dad was in charge of a meal, the meal options were pretty limited. Dad really didn't have a flare for the culinary arts but was usually able to come up with something to please the masses (that would be his brood of 5 kids). It could be his favorite Nathan's hotdogs, Dinty Moore Beef Stew, Chef Boyardee Ravioli, or his infamous "I made this in the Navy" split pea soup.

You see, my dad joined the Navy where he served on (and was a plank owner of) the USS Okinawa. He served during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963 and was one of the first men to cross enemy lines (by air). When my father joined the Navy, he was still living at home with his parents. The story is that my grandmother refused to let her son go off into the military without knowing how to cook at least one meal for himself. She chose a recipe that was easy, cheap, and filling. My father learned the recipe for split pea soup and brought it with him when he embarked on his Naval tour. He would make the soup for fellow Seamen, friends, and even a girlfriend or two. He would add and subtract ingredients as they were available or on sale. Everyone loved it and always asked for more.

I will admit that as a kid, I despised split pea soup days. I absolutely hated the color, texture, and smell of it. I would even get myself so worked up about it that I would gag before even sitting down at the table (and my wonderful son has now picked up this habit). As an adult, I can now appreciate just how good the final recipe of this soup is. It's stick to your bones good and as Vince calls it, crack soup. It makes me smile each time I make it, remembering all those weekends watching my dad stand over a pot stirring his soup.

Dad's Split Pea Soup (aka Crack Soup)
From Dad

1/2 lb Bacon, diced
1 Medium White Onion, diced
2 Medium Russet Potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Quarts of Water
1 lb Dried Green Split Peas
2 Cups Cooked Ham, diced
1 Bay Leaf
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
1 Cup Heavy Cream

  1. In a large stock pot, cook the bacon until crisp.
  2. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
  3. Add the onions to the bacon drippings and cook until translucent.
  4. Add the water, peas, potatoes, ham, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to the stock pot.
  5. Bring to a rolling boil.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  7. Discard the bay leaf
  8. Process the soup in a blender until smooth.
  9. Return the soup to the stock pot.
  10. Add the bacon and the cream to the soup.
  11. Stir to combine.
  12. Serve with warm sourdough bread.

Yields: 12 servings (approx. 1 cup per serving)

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