I love making soups in the winter. I know, I've said it a million times. I just love making a big pot of soup in the slow cooker and having it for lunch for a few days. Packing it for my husband to take to work. To eat for dinner with a bit of freshly baked bread. So good on a cold winter day. I picked up a bag of split peas at our local coop last week and had to make some split pea soup. I think the first time I LIKED split pea soup was in my 20s. Up until then all I knew was the nasty canned stuff my mom kept from 1971 in the back of the pantry. But while at a little cafe in Chicago I tried the soup of the day - an amazing bowl of split pea soup. I knew then how good it could be, and I was hooked!
I know the traditional split pea soup uses a ham hock or chunks of ham, but this smoked bacon version is gooooood. I had gotten some pastured organic smoked bacon from a local farm - the flavor and aroma is amazing - and it just seemed perfect for soup. It is! While the smoked bacon gives a rich flavor, this would make a good veggie soup too...
::split pea soup::
5-6 cups stock (hot)
16 oz. dried split peas
3 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced
2 med. potatoes, chopped
1 lb. smoked bacon*, cut into 1" or so bits
1 Tbsp coconut oil
freshly ground pepper
dash sesame oil
Into your slow cooker/crock pot, add about 5 cups of your HOT stock and all of the split peas - turn to high to get it going.
Cook your bacon - I like to bake mine to manage the smell throughout the house. I put mine in a small cake pan and into a toaster oven set to 350º/bake. I just cook until it is done. Skillet is fine too. When cooked, cut into small pieces.
In a skillet, add the coconut oil and toss in the garlic and onions. Cook on high until beginning to get translucent. Add to the crock pot. When the bacon is done put that in too - and then add the potatoes, carrots, bay leaf, kombu, a dash of sesame oil (even a dash adds so much flavor!), and about a tsp of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Turn down to LOW, and let cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 hours. Add a little more stock during cooking if needed...how much you need can vary based on how big your carrots/potatoes are, etc. In the last 30 minutes, pull out the bay leaf and what is left of the kombu sheet - add a handful of freshly chopped parsley. Season with more salt & pepper to taste.
I like to whiz with an immersion blender at the end to really make it more creamy - it blends the flavors, and gives that split pea look and texture. I do like to leave it chunky, so only do it enough to get the liquid to thicken a bit. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can take 1/2 of the liquid and whiz it in a food processor.
*When buying pork, be sure to buy pastured. Pastured pigs are not kept in confinement, and are free to root and dig and behave in natural ways with other pigs in the sunshine. Pastured pork is not only more humane for the pigs and better for the environment, but is also better for you. Pastured pork has higher levels of vitamins and Omega-3's. Not to mention it just tastes better. Extra bonus if you can find organic pastured pork. If you live in a farming area go find a farm! The farms where we purchase pork let us go out and visit - see where the animals are raised and walk right up and say hi to the animals (and meet the farmers!) - and we can also buy on farm directly from the farmer.