Few things in life offer better comfort against the cold than a steaming bowl of split-pea soup. And, with the pre-winter chill we’ve been subjected to this week, this recipe makes for an affordable and satisfying meal indeed.
Most split-pea soup recipes advise you to pre-soak the peas but I never bother – I find the hour and a quarter cooking time is enough to soften them. And it doesn’t matter if the potato cooks away to virtually nothing – that just adds to the soup’s delicious thickness.
Starting them off with cold water as per my recipe also helps to soften legumes and pulses – as, supposedly, does adding any salt (or stock powder) quite far into the cooking time. Speaking of salt, there’s no need to add any here as the stock powder provides more than enough seasoning. You can also substitute the pork spare rib for a meaty ham-bone.
You’ll have to double the recipe for six people, which is more sensible if you’re serving it to guests; however I usually just go with the serving for three when I’m cooking it for Salvelio and myself. The soup keeps well, so you can make it the day before.
1 large onion, chopped; 1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped; glug or two of olive oil for frying; 200g smoked pork rib; 1 bayleaf; 1 cup dried split peas; 5 cups cold water; 1 medium potato, finely diced; 1 tsp good-quality vegetable stock powder; freshly-ground black pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pot and fry the onion and garlic till softened; add the rest of the ingredients except for the vegetable stock powder.
Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the soup has thickened sufficiently. I tend to simmer it with the lid tilted at an angle so some of the vapour can escape. You only need to stir it every 15 minutes or so to make sure the peas don’t stick. Only add the stock powder about half-way through or even towards the end of the cooking time. Season with black pepper if desired.
Remove the pork from the soup and cut the meat off the ribs. Discard the bones and put the meaty bits back into the pot. Serve.