Two words: chipotle pepper or smoked paprika. Ok, maybe four, but who's counting? If you like a little spicy on the side, use a whole chipotle pepper as a "floater" in the soup, like you would use a whole bay leaf. The only people that are going to get a spicy bite are those actually eating the pepper. My daughter had her bowl minus the chipotle pepper and didn't think it was spicy at all. But my husband, son and I all enjoyed a little spice from breaking up the chipotle pepper in our bowls. So good. Next time, I'm going to put at least two peppers in the soup. If you want it smokey without the spice, try adding smoked paprika powder instead. Now you're talking!
Feel free to puree the soup, but I like to skip this step, leaving it stand just the way it is. My son likes to have it chunky this way. Hey, with fewer dishes, I won't complain. =)
Split Pea Soup
1 pound split peas, sorted and rinsed
3 quarts water (more for thinner soup)
5 carrots, chopped
3 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 - 2 dried whole chipotle peppers (a smoked jalapeno pepper)
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 Tablespoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
a little freshly ground black pepper (1/4 teaspoon maybe?), to taste
1 potato, diced
1/2 cup other veggies on hand, as desired
1 bay leaf
Start by getting your water and split peas going to a boil on the stove in a good sized kettle (I used my 5 quart "dutch oven" pot). When it has reached a boil, turn down to medium heat. Meanwhile, chop up the carrots, onions, garlic and celery and add to the soup pot as you go. "Float" the dried chipotle pepper in the soup like you would a bay leaf (which would be added here too, if you want to use a bay leaf). Make sure to leave the chipotle pepper whole, unless you want the entire soup pot to be spicy!
Cook at least 30 minutes, test to check if split peas are soft and add more time if needed. If you like pureed split pea soup, here's the place to do it, before adding the herbs. Turn down to a simmer, add the seasonings, salt and ground pepper. Cook another 5 minutes, then turn heat off. Remove and reserve the chipotle pepper (discard the bay leaf, if using). Move off the hot burner and serve. Add bits of the chipotle pepper to the bowls of those that request their soup a bit spicy.
This can easily be done in a crock pot on low for 4-6 hours. Add seasonings in the last 30 minutes.
We enjoyed this with homegrown cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado on the side. Afterward, we rinsed our bowls out for some homemade vegan ice cream for dessert! Oooo...Aaaah! Recipe coming soon.