Smoky Split Pea Soup

Right now I’m loving the solidarity we all have regarding winter. As horrid as it is, hearing everyone in North America (and in Europe and the Middle East too!) complain about the lack of sun, the frigid temperatures, and the ungodly amounts of snow makes me feel like I’m part of a community. Tonight, along with everyone else in Virginia, I’m batting down the hatches and preparing for the worst–Winter Wallop III is on its way and this time I’m prepared. I’ve stocked up on fresh green vegetables (collards, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli) and I’ve amped my workouts for the week to counteract the sloth that I’ll turn into when the snow hits. And three’s a charm, right? So maybe after the third apocalyptic winter storm of the season we won’t have any more. My fingers are definitely crossed!

Three is also a charm when it comes to split pea soup, I’m finding. Fall of 2007 I made V*Con’s roasted red pepper and split pea soup and it was pretty good. Not what I was looking for, but pretty good. Fall of 2008 I came up with my own recipe which incorporated seitan ham and involved the use of a blender to get the perfect texture. This year, however, I think I’ve hit pay dirt. I think I’ve found the perfect smoky, ham flavored, mushy split pea soup of my childhood.

Ham flavored? Mushy split peas? I know, I know, you’re wondering what deep end I’ve plunged into. Neither of those sound to good. And, well, when I reveal the secret ingredient, I know a lot of you aren’t going to approve of it. I mean…it’s just not an acceptable flavoring in most circles. But bear with me, the soup is worth it.

I can’t remember when Renee first posted about the Goya Ham Concentrate but when she did I became a tad bit obsessed with the idea of it. Something easily found in your everyday grocery store in the Mexican aisle, something that’s vegan, and something that’s named “ham concentrate?!?!” Yes, yes please. True to word, it is vegan. But there is a but. The two main ingredients? 1. salt 2. MSG. Well, the third one is pretty funny too, “artificial ham flavor.” Ok, sure, the seasoning is pretty bad and it contains MSG and I understand why you would be averse to MSG, but remember, MSG in small quantities isn’t bad for you. However, that said, the flavoring is totally optional. You could throw in a little liquid smoke and extra salt to make up the difference.

The point is, I’ve finally made the ham soup of my childhood–sans fatty pieces of ham floating around in it. The mushiness is good–in fact, it’s required. And while the blended recipe was satisfying, my mom never blended hers. Instead she let the split peas cook down until they got mushy and thickened the soup. MSG or no MSG, this one is a winner in my book, if only because it’s so darn simple.

Smoky Split Pea Soup

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp aleppo pepper (or 1/2 tsp chipotle pepper)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 c dried split peas
7 c vegetable broth
1 packed Goya Ham Concentrate (optional)

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute until tender, 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add the split peas, vegetable broth, and ham concentrate and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and cover.

Cook for 1-1 1/2 hours until the peas being to break down and thicken.

Serves 6

14 Responses to “Smoky Split Pea Soup”
  1. Alice says:

    I too am complaining about the awful northern Italian weather ;)
    This looks yummy and filling…
    Never heard of ham concentrate though.

  2. taleoftwovegans says:

    Mmm, I lovelovelove split pea soup. I like the idea of adding some chipotle to get a bit of smokiness. Gotta say, though, the idea of ham concentrate grosses me out way too much. :P This reminds me – When I first went vegetarian way back when, my mom made ‘vegetarian’ split pea soup (“without the ham!”), but I was aghast to walk by the slow cooker and see a big ol’ bone sticking out of it. Ew! :) -Eve

  3. Celine says:

    oh my, that goya thing sounded so perfect until I reached the MSG mention. I can’t have it at all lest I puff up and start feeling nauseated to the max. boohoohoo! the soup’s gotta be delish on its own though, so poo-poo to you, goya.

  4. Diann says:

    Your soup looks so good! I don’t know if I’m up for the fake ham concentrate, but I might as well be if I have fake bac’n bits in my cupboard!

    I am so tired of winter. I need warm sunshine soon!

  5. Jan says:

    Battening down the hatches in Cvlle, split pea sounds amazing. I usually add some quinoa and chipotle and If I am in the mood liquid smoke. Got my soup simmering away. Good luck with snowmaggedon!

  6. renae says:

    This snow…ugh. On the bright side, your soup sounds like the perfect thing to make while working from home tomorrow. I even have the same bowl to serve it in!

  7. mihl says:

    Yes, we’re the winter community! I really hope for spring though (argh, complaining again)…but this awesome soup sounds like winter can stay a little bit longer.

  8. Barbara says:

    Your split pea soup looks so satisfying, Jes. I am in a soup-state-of-mind myself these days. I wonder how Fakin’ Bacon would work in your recipe instead of the ham concentrate? I use the tempeh product in baked beans sometimes and it has just the right smoky note. Stay warm in winter! The days are getting longer and brighter. ;-)

  9. Here in Saudi Arabia it is gloriously sunny everyday and in the mid 70s. The perfect weather! Get back to me in summer when it is 99% humidity and 125F and you won’t be so jealous!!!

    The soup looks fabulous, so thick and creamy. I’ve got to try it!

  10. Beth says:

    Yes, count me in as one of your fellow I-am-so-flippin’-sick-of-winter brethren! But soups like this really give warm comfort, for sure. It looks wonderful. And speaking of warm comfort, thanks to your brownie post a while back, I’ve made brownies three times! Good medicine for the winter blahs…:-)

  11. jessy says:

    i didn’t even think about working out a little extra to make up for the fact that the gym is closed today and will probably be tomorrow as well. if we get another storm i’m gonna keep that in mind, fo ‘sho! i’m about done with all this crappy weather. i’m a girl who loves winter, but this is just too much. the last time it snowed like this was about 10 years ago when dan and i first met, so i’m hoping it’s just a once every 10 years kinda thing. ah ha ha! your smoky split pea soup look awesome and it sounds absolutely perfect. i don’t mind a little msg, especially if it makes for one damn tasty soup! i need to get my hands on some ham concentrate…. yay!

  12. BitterSweet says:

    I wish I could find some upside to this shared experience, but I’m pretty much over the whole winter thing. I’m really ready for spring already! Luckily, the big storm managed to miss us entirely; They predicted 3 – 6 inches, we got none. Not complaining one bit!

    Still, I wouldn’t mind keeping warm with a big bowl of this soup…! :)

  13. JennShaggy says:

    Wow…that looks great!

    You should buy some MimicCreme online…it’s so worth the price. I promise.

    And thank you for the suggestion! I’m on it like jelly on toast.

  14. Goya strikes again! First the vegan flan and now the vegan ham. The soup looks perfect to fight the horrid weather, and the bowl is so pretty! I’m glad you’ve been reunited with your long-lost childhood soup! :-)

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