The creaminess of this non-cream soup is astounding. With a butter, onion, and cabbage base, the soup, when cooked down and blended, has a magical smoothness to it; it is absolute comfort on a cool day. And then the thyme? And bacon? Count me in for lunch, dinner, and then lunch again.
So glad I had the opportunity to get this recipe in another time before the weather gets warm and I take down my soup obsession a notch or two. This last drizzly spell in Western Washington had my fireplace going again, and a couple of different pots of soup on the stove. Pacified by the rain and dreading the drought, I’m grateful for these late spring showers.
And I’m grateful for soup. And Courtney Barnett. Her album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Think, is named after a poster that hung at her grandmother’s house. The Australian independent rocker that sprang into fame in 2013 with “Avante Gardner”, which Pitchfork named “the best new track of 2013,” also self-released her first album with a loan from her grandmother. I’m grateful for Courtney Barnett’s grandmother. Barnett’s tracks are at once mellow and upbeat, though you don’t have to take my word for it: Barnett was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 2016. Her songwriting seems effortless and easy, which is the feeling I get when I listen to her songs. Even when she is complaining about the world, her laissez-faire attitude and playing style make the listener feel as if everything is going to be okay.
It is! Everything is okay. Better than okay. We’re making split pea soup. With thyme. And BACON.
- 3 cups dried split green peas
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 large white onion
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce or 2/3 head of green cabbage
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp. thyme (plus additional springs for garnish)
- 5-6 strips fried and chopped bacon (for garnish)
- Begin by soaking peas overnight to reduce time. Rinse, (I always rinse at least twice) and bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil, before adding the split peas. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer partially covered for 30-40 minutes until they begin to soften. *If you don’t have time to soak the peas overnight, soak for as long as possible, and make sure to still rinse carefully. Split peas that are not pre-soaked will take considerably longer to cook, sometimes upwards of an hour and a half before they begin to soften. They will also be cooked an addition ten minutes with the other ingredients.
- While split peas cook, thinly slice onion onion and finely chop lettuce or cabbage.
- Melt butter in a heavy-bottom sauce pan on medium heat (4 qt. minimum, but larger is preferable), and add onions, stirring until translucent.
- Add shredded cabbage or lettuce, stir until wilted, and add vegetable broth.
- Add lentils (strain any excess water that hasn’t been fully absorbed) and thyme, and simmer for an additional ten minutes.
- Blend smooth using an immersion blender, or in small batches using a standing blender. *If using a standing blender or food processor, take care not to fill over 2/3, and cover with a damp cloth to prevent burning from steam or unwanted messes.
- Meanwhile, fry bacon in cast-iron pan on medium-high heat until crisp.
- Drain off fat and cut into small pieces, and sprinkle over soup with fresh sprigs of thyme.
Best enjoyed warm on damp, drizzly days. Eat up!