Split Pea Soup

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Jennifer Pallian
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Split pea soup is just not photogenic. There's nothing I can do about it. It is a rude colour, and the texture is gloppy. You're going to have to trust me that it's delicious. We've established trust, right?

Even Pallian couldn't get enough of it. And he comes within a hair's breadth of loathing soup. Except for dunking a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, soup will rarely grace his lips. He doesn't understand this "North American phenomenon". His words.

You know what else are his words? "Horse Dorvus". He means Hors D'oeuvres (correctly pronounced or'dervz). I enjoy that. I think I will have a Horse Dorvus party.

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Cherry blossoms. I love them. They make me giddy. If I were ever to indulge in the urge to lose my mind, you would probably find me running in circles under a cherry tree, arms wide, laughing like a nutter, letting the blossoms snow down on me.

Vancouver is presently blanketed with these adorable pink and white faces of spring. Which inspires me to drive around (40% attention to the road, 60% attention to the trees) snapping pictures and searching for the perfect specimen to park underneath with the sunroof open to admire from below.

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Then there's these babies... I don't even know what they are, but I love them, too.

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And since I'm on a tangent anyway, I thought you might like to see the beach, a kite, and the cutest dog in the universe.

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You're right - I tried to distract you from the unattractive soup with pretty pictures. Did it work?

Okay, back to the delicious, if homely, split pea soup. Made by long-simmering little split peas in a flavourful broth with some kind of pork on the bone, this hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal in a bowl is the perfect antidote to the extended chilly/rainy weather we seem to be getting on both sides of the country.

Traditional French-Canadian split pea soup calls for a smoked ham hock. Not feeling ambitious enough to pursue my pigs-foot quest beyond the grocery store a five minute walk from my apartment, I substituted a meaty pork chop and some bacon with a bit of smoked paprika for extra smoky flavour. I think it was even better than the original. I served mine with buttered whole wheat biscuits.

Split Pea Soup with Pork

  • 4 slices smoked bacon, chopped

  • 1 meaty bone-in pork chop

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 large carrot, diced

  • 2 stalks celery, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 tsp (or more) smoked paprika, optional

  • 4 cups chicken broth

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 cups dried split peas, rinsed

  • salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large stockpot over medium high heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving fat in pot. Add the vegetable oil and brown pork chop on both sides. Set aside.

2. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic to pot (adding more oil if necessary to prevent vegetables from sticking); cook until softened. Add bay leaves, smoked paprika, chicken broth, water and split peas along with reserved bacon and pork chop. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until soup is thick and pork is very tender - 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3. Remove pork chop from soup and cut meat into small cubes. Return meat to pot; discard bone. Discard bay leaves. Serve hot.