While in the grocery store the other day I walked passed the soup section and spotted a can of Habitant French Canadian Pea Soup. Instantly I wanted a piping hot bowl of this stick to your ribs old – fashioned soup! There is truth in the saying to not go into a grocery store when you are hungry!
So I bought a can of it and went home and savored each one of my spoonful’s. It brought back pleasant memories of when I lived in Quebec. Apart from fantastic food, Quebec City actually has special memories for me as that is where I met my husband and where we became engaged!
I decided it had been way too long since I had made yellow split pea soup, so I dug out all my Canadian cookbooks. Pea soup recipes are in practically every one of my heritage cookbooks. I can imagine my ancestors coming in after a cold day of hard work, and being handed a bowl of this satisfying soup. I decided I wanted my soup to be authentic and to use the whole yellow peas like Habitant does, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find any locally, so opted for yellow split peas which seem to be readily available.
In some of the recipes from Newfoundland the addition of diced turnip was included and a few recipes from New Brunswick called for diced potatoes. I seemed to recall my mom throwing in a handful of diced potatoes into her pea soup, so of course, I had to as well. Also, the addition of summer savoury is mentioned in my Maritime versions, but if you can’t find it thyme is a good substitute.
Yellow split pea soup is very easy to make, which makes it convenient for our busy lives. To keep true to some of the original recipes, I used the salt pork that was specified, however, a ham bone seems a popular choice or diced ham would work. I’ve noticed lately that hams are showing up in the grocery stores without the nitrites, so that is what I will be using the next time I make split pea soup. Split peas are high in protein, low in fat, and are full of fiber. In other words, we should be eating more of this nutritious legume, especially in view of the news that the price of meat will be increasing. Soups are very economical, and I plan on having a regular supply in my freezer for the days I don’t feel like cooking a big meal.
The finished result was so tasty, and even though I enjoyed my Habitant soup I liked mine better and loved the fact that it makes plenty for friends or family. This soup will thicken up the next day, so you may want to add a little water to thin.
- 2 cups dried yellow split peas, sorted and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 stalks celery diced (leaves can be included)
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 1 medium potato peeled and diced (optional)
- 8 cups water
- ½ teaspoon summer savoury or thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ lb. or 112 grams of salt pork or ham diced (that's a little more than a half a cup. Try to get the salt pork with as little fat as possible.)
- Salt and pepper to taste (remember the meat is salty so you may want to omit the salt until the end of cooking, then check.)
- In a large Dutch oven or large pot, melt the butter using medium heat, and add the chopped onions, celery and carrots. Cook until the onion is translucent 4 or 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the water, yellow split peas, summer savoury, bay leaf, pepper and salt pork.
- Bring to a gentle boil, skimming any foam from the top that may form, then lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook 2-3 hours or until the peas are tender, stirring occasionally. After one hour and a half add the potatoes if using.
- Before serving, remove the bay leaf and taste to see how much salt to add.
- Garnish with a little fresh thyme if available.