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Monday, May 14, 2012

Beer and Bacon Split Pea Soup {Recipe Perfected}

I know I've featured split pea soup here before, but I recently fell butt-backwards into recipe perfection and HAD to share. I was making split pea soup, and had just cracked open an ice cold beer (hey, it was a long day!). I was nearing the point in the recipe where I needed to add my liquids (a blend of chicken stock and water). I reached over and grabbed my beer for a quick sip. Before the bottle could touch my lips, it dawned on me -- I could put this in my soup. I looked at my mostly-full Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I looked at my sauteing veggies. I choked up a little, said good-bye to my beer, and poured it straight-away into the dutch oven. I smiled.

And then I got myself a fresh beer.








Friends....it was divine. Something about the hoppy ale just lent an incredible richness and darkness to the soup. And of course this recipe leverages the power of bacon. Bacon is one of the great loves of my life. Put simply, if my right arm was made of bacon, I would have eaten it off a long time ago, hoping it would grow back bigger, badder and bacon-y-er. All that to say, this recipe is a keeper. This is the split pea soup I will be making for the rest of my life. Someday when I have kids, I hope they'll enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and beg for it as adults, the way us "kids" beg for my mother-in-law's meatloaf and secret curry. 

Let's begin, shall we?






Ingredients
  • 1 20oz bag green split peas with the ham packet
  • 1 medium onion (any kind), chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1 12oz pale ale (Sierra Nevada is my fave)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 52 oz water
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • green onions, finely chopped (enough to garnish)

I use my favorite HamPeas brand split peas. I urge you, please, buy the bag with the glorious ham packet. Chop your onions and mince your garlic in advance and set them aside. Make sure you rinse and drain your peas as well.



Slice your bacon into lardons (about 1/2" wide pieces).


Before you turn on your stove, add the bacon to a dutch oven. Turn your stove burner to medium heat, and render the bacon until it's just crisp (but not super crispy / burned). About 10-2 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and transfer to paper towels to drain. Your bacon should look like this.....mmmm....bacon.... {wipes drool}


Leave all of the bacon fat in the pan. Hey -- I never promised this would be a diet blog. There's a reason this tastes good, and it starts with buying bigger jeans. Eat a salad or jog a lap the day before.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....Immediately add the onions and garlic to the pan (remaining at medium heat). Saute, stirring periodically, until the onions are soft -- about 5 minutes.





Add the peas to the pan, stirring frequently. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and saute for about 2 minutes.






And now.......Add. The. BEER. {muhahahahah!}






Using a wooden spoon, scrape up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan....and I mean ALL of the brown bits. Let the beer simmer for about 2 minutes and reduce slightly. Add the water and chicken stock. Turn the heat to high (but not quite as high as it will go), and bring to a hard boil. Cover (not too tightly) and boil for 30 minutes. 

Add the ham packet, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and bring pea mixture down to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. 

If you like your pea soup chunky, you can skip the blending step. We like a smoother pea soup in our house, so I always bust out my hand blender and blend the soup right in pot. If you don't own a hand blender, I highly recommend getting one. It's an incredible convenience tool, and I love mine....because it sucks having to pour hot soup into the blender in batches, plain and simple. 

After your soup has reached your desired smooth-operator status, add a tablespoon of unsalted butter. Why? Because this soup didn't have enough fat before (I kid!). Because, well, I don't know....I always add a tablespoon of butter to blended soups to "finish" them. It just gives them some gloss and richness. It's the reason blended soups and bisques at foodie restaurants always have that little something extra that you can't quite capture at home. So, now you know. If there's a bikini in your near future, you could skip this, or you could tack an extra five minutes onto your workout. Or you could just add it and enjoy it. Your choice. 







And now it's time to eat! I always serve this soup with bread for dipping, otherwise you run the risk of hitting your forehead on your bowl, as you attempt to extract every last bit of flavor. 

I garnish the soup with green onions and LOTS of bacon. If you have creme fraiche on hand, add a small dollop of that too -- it will make you cry real food-tears.






Bon appetite! And now.....SOUP MONTAGE!! 





Cheers! What are you making for dinner this week?





P.S. I'm linking up here:

Home Stories A2Z  Sew ChattyI Heart Nap Time








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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the suggestion! I brew my own beer (so there is always LOTS around) and without any chicken stock on hand I wondered... and googled... and found your site. My pea soup is happily simmering now with 12 oz of my Thai Basil infused IPA. Smells delightful :)

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