Green Pea and Red Lentil Soup


I’m a huge fan of pea soup on a chilly day.  I make it slightly differently every time, but one thing I’ve learned is that a soup needs to be built up. When I was young, I would dump everything in the pot at once, turn up the heat and simmer, and wonder why it didn’t taste like it should. In this case, I started with the onions and gradually added ingredients until only the legumes, water and herbs remained to be added. I was happy with this particular version and thought I’d share it here.

1 spanish onion, diced
4 carrots, roughly chopped (size depends on how chunky you like your soup)
3 celery stalks, diced
4 medium red potatoes, roughly chopped
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 thick slices of ham, sliced into small cubes (again, your size preference)
1 lb dried green split peas
1/4 lb dried red lentils
10 to 12 cups of water (depending on how thick you like your soup)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp ground savory
salt and pepper
olive oil

If you have time, brown the ham in the bottom of the soup pot in a little bit of olive oil, then remove to a bowl. Add a couple tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of your soup pot, and saute the onions, stirring occasionally, on medium-low heat until they are translucent and starting to carmelize. Add the carrots and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes minutes; add the potatoes and garlic (and the ham, if you didn’t brown it) and cook for another 5 minutes; add the celery and cook for another 5 minutes. During this process, stir occasionally because while a little browning on the bottom of the pan can add a nice flavor, you don’t want to go overboard and burn anything, which will ruin the soup. Stir in the ham.

Add the water, herbs and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Bring to a boil, stir the pot and lower the heat to a very gentle simmer.  Most likely you’ll want more salt, but it is better to add and taste for salt in increments and there is plenty of time ahead. I’ll cook this for a few hours, stirring every once in a while, until the legumes have completely disintegrated.  Towards the end of the cooking process, I’ll add in some freshly ground pepper to taste.

This is marvelous served with some good bread, and maybe a garnish of fresh, chopped parsley on top.


10 thoughts on “Green Pea and Red Lentil Soup”

  1. Love lentil and/or pea soup. Thanks for the reminder to build – I think I’ve pretty much been the throw-it-all-in-and-cook type. I’m curious what type of onion is a Spanish onion? Maybe we have a different name for it out west?

  2. Oh my, that is just beautiful!I cant wait to try this.Ive nottried it with lentils before.Your site is really wonderful,I’d love to guide our readers to your site if you won’t mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to the end of this post and it’s all set, Thanks!

  3. Charles — a spanish onion looks like a yellow onion but is larger and a bit milder.

    And thanks for dropping by Kat and TW. This reminds me I really need to move this blog to disqus.

  4. Taking time to add the ingredients slowly does make a difference. This soup looks divine! I love all the herbs … they must add wonderful flavor.

  5. I absolutely love red lentil soup, but also adding green pea makes it even better,I will be sure to try that one out.

  6. It helps to cool the soup after a few hours of simmering . Then run it through a blender a few cups at a time until you have a soup with a creamy base and a coarser sub texture of unblended peas and lentils. Fantastic when its cold.

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