I don’t like peas.
As a child, I’d put up a fuss every time peas and carrots were served for dinner. I hated their mealy, mushy texture and ability to make everything else on the plate taste and smell like peas.
So I was skeptical when, back when we were dating, my now-husband mentioned that he wanted to make me “delicious” Canadian pea soup. In my mind, “delicious” and “pea soup” were not compatible phrases, even when love was involved.
Anyways, David waited until we were married before testing out this recipe on me. And…I was surprised. It was, indeed, delicious pea soup. HOWEVER, it was not green pea soup. It’s yellow split pea soup, a traditional French Canadian dish. I haven’t tried looking for yellow split peas anywhere besides Toronto, but here they are readily available in the bean aisle in your average supermarket.
This soup is homey and hearty — just the thing to warm you up in subzero Canadian winter weather. It’s also a forgiving recipe — I’ve altered the number of veggies, depending on what I have on hand. And though traditionally made with a ham hock, I’ve also substituted smoked pork bits and leftover ham with good success. It’s also super easy — just pile the ingredients in the pot, bring it to a boil, then simmer til delicious!
Canadian Pea Soup
- 1 ham hock (or meaty ham bone, or ~1/2 lb. ham)
- 2 cups dried yellow split peas
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
- 8 cups of water
- 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.
- Lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2-3 hours or until peas begin falling apart and the ham meat is cooked and falling off the bone.
- Remove from heat. Remove meat and set aside. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig and discard.
- Puree soup in batches in a food processor / blender (or use an immersion blender) to desired consistency.
- Chop meat and return to pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.