Split Pea and Barley Soup

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On New Year’s Day I made a big pot of pea soup. It was delicious. The barley adds a nice chewiness, and the bacon is just added at the end, so the bacon naysayers can have theirs plain, leaving more pork of the rest of us.

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  • a couple tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube (all natural, please)
  • 2 cups dried split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • about a 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • about a 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 cup pearled barley
  • 4 or 5 slices bacon (optional)
  • salt and pepper

In a large heavy pot, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and a little salt and cook over medium heat until the onions start to soften up a bit. Then add the carrots and cook until the carrots start to soften and the onions are just starting to brown a little  bit. Meanwhile combine the bouillon cube with about 2 cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Then pour it in to the pot along with another 4 cups or so of water. Add the peas and the marjoram and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the peas are becoming tender but are still a little bit al dente, about 45 minutes. Add the barley and cook until barley is tender and the peas are soft, another 30 to 45 minutes or so. Meanwhile cook the bacon until crisp. Crumble and set aside.

Now you want to puree a little of the soup so its nice and thick, but still a little chunky. If you have an immersion blender, give the pot of soup just a quick zap with it. Don’t get carried away. Just a couple seconds. Or you can use a regular blender to puree a few cups of the soup and then add the purred soup back to the chunky soup in the pot. If the soup is too thick add a little more water and cook over low heat until heated through. If you think it’s too thin, just cook the soup a few more minutes, uncovered, until it thickens up a bit. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and sprinkle with a little crumbled bacon.

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