When I was a 4 or 5 my Dad’s family lived in Santa Barbara. A couple of times a year we would drive up from Los Angeles to visit. Along the way there were always signs for Andersen’s – the split pea soup Andersen’s. The signs featured Hap-pea the big cook and Pea-wee his helper. Some even showed an elaborate split-pea soup factory. The signs were provocative and intriguing. It wasn’t long before the idea of Hap-pea, Pea-wee and a soup factory became as real as the car I was trapped in. I could see just how it looked. And if I scrunched up my face and thought really hard I could even hear and smell it.
OK, I was a very literal kid. If I saw a picture of anything I believed it was real. And I believed with ALL my heart that somewhere up the road Hap-pea and Pea-wee were busy in the soup factory, making soup – just for me! It was enough to make me almost like peas. Some kids are disillusioned by finding out there is no Santa. Not me. My big disillusionment came when I found out that there wasn’t a real Hap-pea or Pea-wee or even a soup factory. I was crushed!
Not crushed enough to quit liking split-pea soup or begging my parents to take me to Andersen’s, but it still was a major disappointment. As an adult, I swear the story is true. When I think about split-pea soup my mouth waters, I smile and envision the soup factory. . .
Could be that this memory is why I love a simple split-pea soup. Or it could just be that it is just plain yummy!
For whatever reason, when the weather turns cold, my thoughts turn to split pea soup.
Split Pea Soup (My Andersen’s imitation)
- In a frying pan or Dutch oven sauté vegetables:
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stick of celery
- garlic to taste
- While the vegetable are sautéing sash and sort 2 cups of split-peas (to sort out stones and bad peas) and set aside. One commercial bag is about two cups.
- When the onions start to go clear add your herbs:
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried basil
- Black Pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
- Add the final ingredients to the veggie and herb mix and cook for another 3 minutes:
- the split-peas
- 8 cups of water (cover peas and veggies with water and add about 2 inches of water more)
- 1 bay leaf
- Bring to a hard boil (stirring often) and let it boil for 15 minutes
- Turn the heat to low, cover the pot for an hour or so. You may need to add water and adjust the herbs. When everything is cooked to a mush it is ready to eat
- Remove the bay leaves
- Create your favored consistency — some people want it very smooth and will blend the soup using an immersion blender or putting it through a sieve or blending it in the food processor for a few seconds. I just mash it with a potato masher since we like it kind of lumpy.
I generally make very much bigger batches; the thing to remember is the proportions: 4 cups of water to cup of split-peas. Then add 1 onion, 1 carrot and 1 stalk celery and herbs and garlic to taste. I sometimes make it in a crockpot, the difference in reducing the water to a 3 cups of water to 1 cups of split-peas and cooking it 6-8 hours. No matter how you make it, the taste is satisfying and wonderful.
Oh, and if you happen up CA-101 be sure to wave at Hap-pea and Pea-wee as you go by. You could even stop in for a visit at the factory aka Pea Soup Andersen’s Restaurant. The soup there is great, but not as good as this!