Split Pea Soup -- Chock Full of Nutrition and Goodness

     Barry recently handed me a seasonal article on the benefits of split peas. These inexpensive legumes help stabilize blood sugar levels, help reduce cholesterol and contain isoflavones, which are helpful in reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
 Low in calories, they are touted as a food that helps control weight. For more nutritional information, check out these sites:
·                         Health Benefits of Green Split Peas 
    The most common way to eat split peas is in soup. Lots of recipes add ham or even sauté the veggies is bacon fat. We start with olive oil and then often times use a strip or two of cooked, crumbled bacon, sour cream and fresh herbs as toppings. Thick and tasty, this soup makes a satisfying meal.
     Did you know? There are actually green and yellow split peas. They are generally interchangeable in recipes but yellow split peas have a milder flavor (than green peas) because of their lower chlorophyll content.

Split Pea Soup     3 to 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped green pepper, optional
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup green split peas
4 cups broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
1½ teaspoons seasoning blend (I use whatever is on hand such as Penzeys Forward! – a salt-free blend of black pepper, onion, paprika, garlic, turmeric, etc.)
1 teaspoon salt
Optional toppings: crisp, crumbled bacon / dollops of sour cream / freshly chopped herbs – parsley, chives, sprigs of thyme

1.  In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrot, celery, green pepper (if using) and garlic; cook until onion is translucent.

2.  Stir in split peas, broth, seasoning and salt. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 2 to 2½ hours or until peas are tender, stirring frequently. 

3.  Partially purée with an immersion blender or use a blender or food processor. If using a blender or food processor, remove about ½ to ¾ of the hot soup, blend and then return to remaining soup and reheat to pleasing serving temperature. Note: Typically slit pea soup is completely puréed, however we prefer to have bits and pieces of veggies immersed with the blended soup. 

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