Sunday, October 7, 2012

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup with Cornbread Croutons

I think split pea soup falls under the category, along with mushrooms, liver and sushi--to name a few, that you either love it or don't.  My family happens to love it and my mother made the best.  However, my predicament was to maintain the wonderful flavors she instilled by using a ham hock, which is what she always used, and create a vegetarian version.

When we lived in California, we made a day trip to Solvang, a replica of a Bavarian town in the hills above Santa Barbara not only to visit the town, but try the Pea Soup.  Andersen's Inn is known for their Split Pea Soup and it was just as good as mom's, but again, it had ham bits in it.

So, this is what I came up with--Liquid Smoke and replaced 5 cups of the water with vegetable broth.
Even while it was simmering, you would have sworn I had a ham hock or a slice of ham in the soup pot.  The flavors were incredible and with the cool evenings upon us, soup was the perfect meal.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 T unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
3 cups dried split peas, washed and picked over for stones & debris
2 large carrots, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp. dried Thyme
2 bay leaves
8 cups of liquid (I used 5 cups vegetable broth + 3 cups water)
3/4 to 1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes*, peeled, chopped to 1/2" dice (about 1 cup)

In a large Dutch Oven, melt the butter and add the onion and salt.  Saute' over medium heat until the onion is soft, then add the garlic.  Add the peas, thyme, bay leaves, Liquid Smoke, vegetable broth and water.  With the lid off-set a bit, cook over medium heat until boiling.  Lower heat to medium/low and continue to cook for 35 to 40 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery and potatoes and cook another 30 minutes.

*I realize that potatoes might be unusual, but my mother would put a few in to help "bind" the ingredients.  I love the texture of the soup with them in it.

Cornbread Croutons
Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Melt 3 T unsalted butter a 10" x 15" baking sheet, line with parchment, then, butter parchment sheet.

In a large bowl mix:
1 cup King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
2 T fresh chives
5 - 8 dashes Tabasco Sauce
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream

I mixed the dry ingredients first with my favorite flat whisk that I bought when we were in England back in 1992.  I've never seen one here in the United States, but I find it a necessity when I'm making up "quick breads" and muffins.
Mix the "wet" ingredients in a 2-cup measure, then add it to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Add the chives and Tabasco, if using and stir once again.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 13 to 15 minutes until the cornbread is set.
Remove to a rack and cool before slicing into 1-inch cubes.  Place the cubes back on the baking sheet and melt an additional 2-3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter.  Dab the butter on the cornbread cubes.
 Bake another 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  As an added bonus for my hubby, I made some veggie sausage balls so the meal would be complete.  All that was needed was a salad.

We're still behind on our fall color and we haven't had rain or snow like the Mid-west got, but creating an autumn meal made me feel like the season is upon us. Enjoy!



  1. Yummy! Sounds and looks so good. I've never thought about croutons made from cornbread.
    It was a cold dreary day here yesterday and I made soup.
    Have a good week.

    1. Tomorrow is going to be tough--it's Kelly's birthday and she would have been 40.
      I've made Focaccia croutons, so I thought, why not cornbread!
      Stay dry and have a wonderful week, XOXO

  2. The soup looks wonderful, and the liquid smoke sounds fantastic. I'll be thinking of you today ( it's now Monday here). Sending much love dear friend. x

  3. Thought of you first thing this morning, Susan. :) And, tonight, I will have a cosmo! Lv, me.

    P.S. I'm making this soup to go with my balsamic rollups that are in the freezer!

  4. Just to let you know I'm thinking of you.
    Jane xxxxx

  5. I just made a big pot of split pea soup last's gone but it was good. although I do use the ham bone and bits of ham in mine but like you I do ... do veggie stock and water. I make little corn bread muffins to go along with it. Yum! more please.
    stamping sue

  6. Hi dear pal, Well, I've never done it veggie style, but I WILL try it. I especially resonate with recipes when we're traveling and I KNOW I can't get to my stove for awhile. In this case it will be five long weeks! Away from the grands and away from the stove (and my garden).

    Sending love,


  7. This is a soul soothing and flavourful soup. I love split pea!

  8. I have one of those utensils. I bought it at a yard sale. I didn't know what it was until now.