A few weeks ago, at the Farmers Market, McClendon’s, a 25-acre organic farm in Peoria, AZ, was selling some green split peas. There was also a lady giving away samples of a green split pea soup, but it was made with ham hocks, just like my mom used to do. Despite the fact that I couldn’t taste McClendon’s version, the memories were haunting me. I remember eating split pea soup around the Easter holidays, my mom using leftover ham to put together her smoky deliciousness.
My taste buds, at that point, were screaming for pea soup. During my childhood, yellow split peas were used, but the result is just the same with green split peas. The use of smoked paprika and liquid smoke is imperative in order to get the smokiness. Don’t be shy, get some liquid smoke from the grocery store or from Amazon. It is becoming easier and easier to find.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, in small dices
- 1 large carrot, in small dices
- 2 celery ribs, in small dices
- 1 red bell pepper, in small dices
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4-5 drops liquid smoke
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups dried green split peas, well rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cup sweet potato, cubed
- Juice from half a lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- To garnish: minced spring or green onion, minced parsley, dusting of smoked paprika, lemon wedges
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Stir well, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the vegetables are tender, but not burnt, stirring occasionally.
Add the smoked paprika, oregano, and liquid smoke and mix well. Add the broth, split peas, bay leaf, and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the peas and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes of simmering, add the sweet potatoes.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove the soup from the heat and add the juice of half a lemon. Serve the soup garnished with the spring onions, parsley, and smoked paprika. Bon appétit!