Soupe de pois cassés

French split pea soup

This soup is traditional in Alsace, with bacon bits imparting a smoky flavor and a drizzle of cream lending a soothing touch. In short, it’s a perfect comfort food for cool days.

Serve as a lunch dish with crusty bread and perhaps a bottle of red alongside. If in a sandwich mood, you could melt some cheese on toast or add a plate of your favorite cold cuts. The soup also makes a fine starter for a larger meal. For a vegetarian version omit the bacon, and for a vegan version also omit the cream.

The quantities below will serve 3-4.

1 cup (200 g) split peas
6 cups (1-1/2 liter) water
1 onion
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
2 strips of bacon
1 tsp. sea salt or table salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp. heavy cream
fresh herbs for garnish: dill, parsley, cilatro or chervil

Measure the split peas into a sieve. Rinse thoroughly. Transfer to a soup pot. Add the water. Bring to a boil.

While the peas are heating, prepare the veggies. Slice off the ends of the onion, peel it and slice a cross into the top. Peel the carrot. Rinse the celery and remove the leaves.

As the split peas come to a boil, skim away the foam that rises to the surface. Turn down the heat, keeping the soup at a simmer.

Add the veggies and the bacon strips. If more foam rises to the surface, skim it away. Add the salt. Grind in some black pepper.

Simmer for 30 minutes, or until the peas are tender. Remove from heat.

Remove the vegetables and bacon from the soup pot to a plate.

Purée the soup and transfer to a clean pot. If the soup seems too thin, simmer a bit more before continuing. If it seems too thick, add a little water.

Rinse off the carrot and bacon. Slice the carrot into thin rounds and add to the soup. Slice the bacon into small pieces and add. Discard the onion and celery.

Reheat the soup gently. Stir in 2 tsp. cream. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

Serve with an extra drizzle of cream on each bowl and fresh herbs for garnish. Serves 3-4.

Note: This soup will thicken considerably after cooling. If you have some left over, stir in a little water before reheating.

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