Thursday, October 20, 2011

Split Pea and Bacon Soup

When it comes to kitchen utensils, machines, and gadgets, there is nothing I love more than my crockpot.   It's the traditional 1950's housewife, residing in the kitchen, allowing you to ignore it all day and still churning out magical yumminess at dinnertime.  I have this crockpot (but in white and 10 years old), and I love that it has 4 cook settings plus a "warm" feature to keep your food hot in the event the cooking stops before you have a chance to attend to it.   The only thing I could wish for is that it would have the ability to choose the warm feature without first having to go through the 4-10 hours of cooking.

There are a few staples in my crockpot that I have not branched far from: pot roast, pork and sauerkraut, rotisserie-style chicken, chicken soup, taco soup, and chili.  However, I'm trying to expand our family's diet horizons, introduce new foods to my toddlers (holy cow! I have 2 of them!!), and still keep it nice and easy.  I have been returning to the foods I ate while living in Germany: simple, inexpensive, mostly vegetarian, but extremely delicious foods!  This means a return to legumes.

Split Pea and Bacon Soup

1 pound dried split peas
1 pound bacon
1 medium yellow onion
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cans low-sodium chicken broth (I used Swanson 14.5oz cans)
enough water to make 5 cups liquid when combined with broth (I needed 1 3/8 cup - or 11 ounces)

Dump the split peas into the crockpot and pick through to find any rocks, stones, or withered and discolored peas.  There's no need to presoak your peas if you're cooking in the crockpot.  Slice your bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.  I slice it while frozen and the fat is firmed up.  Don't worry about thawing it after slicing.  Just break it up and toss it on top of your peas.   It'll thaw before you turn the crockpot on.   Chop your onion and toss in the crockpot on top of the bacon and peas.  Sprinkle your salt and pepper on top.  Pour your broth and water over everything.  No need to stir anything.

 Split Pea and Bacon Soup

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

When it's all done cooking, you can either use a potato masher and mash the peas into oblivion or use a stick blender (my preference) to get a nice smooth soup.

Split Pea and Bacon Soup

Ideally, I'd like to serve this soup with deep fried croutons, but I didn't have any bread to make them from.  Why deep fried?  It keeps the croutons from getting soggy in your soup.  A nice crusty bread is just as good, however!

And I won't pretend this doesn't have a lot of fat.  It uses a whole pound of bacon, in case you hadn't noticed.  I suppose, if you're scared of a little bacon, you'll just have to use the tried and true ham.  But, bacon will win you brownie points with your husband.  Just saying.

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