Split Pea Soup with Bacon is comfort food at it’s finest, with a crunchy, salty twist. A thick and creamy, split pea base is loaded with veggies, seasonings and lots of bacon for a delicious meal that is perfect with a side of grilled cheese.
It’s soup season, my favorite time of the year! I love it when the weather turns colder and we can truly enjoy delicious homemade soups, like Chicken Minestrone Soup, Hamburger Soup, or Smoky Vegetable Beef Soup. My kids, when asked, will always answer “what’s your favorite food?” with “SOUP!” Well, more specifically they will answer “Mom’s soup” because it’s one of my favorite meals to cook and to eat. Soups are very customizable, and I love just throwing in things I have on hand and calling it a meal. This Split Pea Soup recipe is my new favorite.
SPLIT PEA SOUP WITH BACON
When I was a kid there was a local restaurant called Pea Soup Andersens. Until recently I thought my family just called it that because they are known for pea soup…turns out that IS what they are known for but it’s also the actual name of the restaurant! There was on the way home from Grandma’s house from us and we’d venture there a couple of times a year. They had the best pea soup around, and we’d eat bowl after bowl.
WHAT ARE SPLIT PEAS?
Split peas are field peas that have been harvested, dried and split in half to be used for cooking. They come in sweet green or a mild yellow varieties.
As with lentils, split peas do not need to be soaked overnight and they only take about an hour to cook. You do want to make sure to rinse and take a good look at the peas, sorting through them to pick out any stones that may have been mixed into the bag.
When cooked, split peas become quite soft and have almost a pureed texture. Split peas also have great nutritional benefits as they are low in fat, packed with fiber and protein, and are a good source of several vitamins and minerals.
MAKING THE BEST SPLIT PEA SOUP WITH BACON
There are not a bunch of wild and crazy ingredients in this soup, which helps it to rise to the top of the favorites list. I do like my split pea soup nice and thick, so if you prefer a thinner soup you’ll want to use more broth or thin with water. Here’s what you’ll need:
Seasonings: Bay leave, dried thyme, salt, pepper and garlic
Vegetable broth (recommended) or chicken broth. You could even use water in a pinch.
Begin by heating a large soup pot over medium heat. Cut bacon into bite-sized pieces (*PRO TIP – Use kitchen shears for cutting directly into the pot) and cook in the pot until crisp. Reserve half of the bacon for serving with the soup and drain all but about 2-3 tablespoons of the grease.
Add onions, carrots and celery to the pot and cook until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and split peas. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then pour in 8 cups of vegetable broth.
Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes, skimming any foam that rises to the top, until no more foam appears. Simmer uncovered for 1-1 ½ hours, or until peas are soft for a thicker soup, and covered for a thinner broth. Add more broth as needed while the soup simmers.
You can serve the soup as soon as the peas are nice and soft, adding bacon to each bowl. Or for a smoother soup, use and an immersion blender directly in the pot to puree the soup until slightly chunky (almost smooth but with some texture).
Ladle into bowls and serve warm, garnished with crumbled bacon and/or homemade croutons.
HOW TO SERVE AND STORE SPLIT PEA SOUP WITH BACON
Split pea soup is a delicious meal on it’s own, rich with flavor from the veggies and bacon. We do love to top our soup with croutons and serve it with some grilled cheese or cheesy garlic bread.
Store in the refrigerator tightly covered for up to three days. Split Pea Soup will thicken as it stands, so you may need to add a bit of broth or water to thin it out. Store tightly covered in the freezer for up to three month for optimal freshness.
1pounddried green split peasrinsed and picked over
½ teaspoondried thyme
8-12cupsvegetable brothor chicken broth or water
Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Cut bacon into bite-sized pieces and cook in the pot until crisp. Reserve half of the bacon for serving later with the soup and drain all but about 2-3 tablespoons of the grease.
Add onions, carrots and celery to the pot and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft and onions translucent. Stir in garlic, bay leaves, thyme and split peas and stir for 1 minute. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then pour in 8 cups of vegetable broth.
Increase heat and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming any foam that rises to the top, until no more foam appears. Simmer uncovered for 1-1 ½ hours, or until peas are soft. Add more broth as needed while the soup simmers.
Turn off heat. Stir soup to mix well from the bottom up.
*OPTIONAL STEP: Using an immersion blender directly in the pot, puree the soup until slightly chunky (almost smooth but with some texture). Alternatively, puree in batches in a food processor or blender. Reheat soup in the pot and continue with the next step.
Ladle into bowls and serve warm, garnished with reserved crumbled bacon and/or homemade croutons.
The bacon can be optional and the soup will be delicious either with or without it.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.