For many years I was blissfully unaware of the fact that this classic soup demands a ham hock gently simmering as the peas slowly break down into a creamy soup. Upon learning this, I decided that a vegetarian split pea deserved another dimension to create those same flavour profiles: flavourful, smokey roasted mushrooms to contrast in colour and texture to the rich sea of split peas below them. This is a wholesome, plantbased split pea that makes no attempts to trick anyone into believing it is the same as its Quebecois predecessor.
Thyme is a classic herb paired with split pea, and I can’t argue with that. I took a little bit of liberty though and added some caraway seeds: similar in appearance to cumin, these seeds are common in eastern European stews and are somewhat sweet and licorice-y. They apparently have carminative properties (meaning that they help to reduce gas and bloating), which is a positive outcome for any meal with beans/pulses… just saying. Superstitious folks also suggest that caraway seeds have the power to keep lovers from losing interest in one another: I suppose if you’re less gassy then you won’t drive your partner away. If you’re into herbal remedies (which I am), it also looks like these seeds have a number of medicinal properties!
In addition to the mushrooms, I added some parsley oil on top for the bright colour and flavour. It only takes a couple minutes of hands on time to make it, and you can keep it in the fridge to toss with roasted vegetables, marinate meat/tofu, top your eggs, spread it on a sandwich, stir into hummus, or add to salad dressing throughout the week!
split pea soup
3 tablespoons coconut oil/butter/olive oil
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
3 large cloves garlic, minced
a few sprigs of thyme (1 tablespoon minced)
1 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
3/4 cup yellow split peas, soaked for 2 hours*
6 1/2 cups broth (can sub partially with water)
2 cups mushrooms, quartered (white or cremini)
1 T maple syrup
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons gluten free soy sauce/tamari
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 bunch of parsley (1 cup after blanching)
1/2 cup olive oil
Heat the butter/oil in a small soup pot over medium low heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and sweat them without browning. Add the garlic and a good pinch of salt after 5 minutes, and stir occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Add the spices, herbs, and salt and pepper. Add the split peas and broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer until the peas have broken down, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Puree half the soup with an immersion blender, and season with more salt and pepper.
While the soup is cooking, you can prepare the mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Whisk everything but the mushrooms in a small casserole dish. Add the mushrooms, stir to coat, then bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To make the parsley oil, bring a small pot of water to a boil and have an ice bath ready. Add the parsley to the water, and after 15 seconds remove it with a pair of tongs and plunge it into the ice bath. Remove and let dry on a towel. Place in a high speed blender with the oil and puree until smooth. You can pass this through a sieve/cheesecloth for a more refined look, or leave it as is (if you’re at home, who cares!). It’s pretty thick at this point, so if you would prefer it thinner just add about 1/4 – 1/2 cup more oil.
* split peas don’t really need to be soaked like other beans, but it does help speed up the process ever so slightly.