I feel like a terrible mother every time I make split pea soup, because I never fail to be embarrassed by its appearance.
It's brushed off my consistent nags to "Put on some lipstick!" or to "Pinch your cheeks!" so I started adding sweet potatoes to try to gussy it up a bit.
I make excuses for its drab, leaden looks as I ladle it into bowls and then use lots of crispy bacon to accentuate its finer qualities.
Surely it hears me, but darned if it doesn't come out tasting lovely every single time.
It forgives my superficial ways and shines from the inside out--charming the pants off cornbread, homemade croutons, grilled cheese, and anyone who remembers that beauty is only skin deep.
Split pea soup with sweet potatoes
- 6 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 3 small carrots, diced
- 4 small celery ribs (with leaves), diced
- 3 garlic cloves, microplaned
- chef's measure of salt and freshly-ground pepper
- 1 pound of green split peas, sorted and rinsed
- 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 to 3 cups cold water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of fresh sage (if you have it)
Cook the bacon in a heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-low heat until crispy and come-hither. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and hide it from passersby.
In the bacon's drippings, sauté the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic (with a fearless addition of salt and pepper) until soft and lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the split peas, potatoes, stock, 2 cups of the water, the bay leaves, the sage sprig (if using), and another sizable pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Stir to combine, bring to a boil and then drop to a simmer.
Cover and cook for 50 to 60 minutes, checking occasionally to see if it needs more water or a little bit of rouge, I mean, salt. Top with bacon bits, then vow to love it just the way it is.