This is the vegetarian split pea soup for those of us who remember with longing those bowls of thick, ham bone-flavored soup that our grandmothers used to make. Here, mushrooms add texture and the miso gives a rich flavor, yet the soup’s virtually fat-free!
We’ve made this soup with several types of dried mushrooms. Chanterelles have a particularly nice flavor, texture, and color with split peas. Dried portabellas also have a good flavor and are usually reasonably priced. We’ve even made split pea soup with shiitake. A mix is nice, too. Split pea soup tastes great left over, but reheat it gently—miso should never be heated to boiling.
YIELDS 13 CUPS
- ½ ounce dried mushrooms, softened in 1 cup boiling water*
- 2 cups dried split peas (about 1 pound)
- 8 cups water
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1½ cups peeled and diced carrots
- 1½ cups chopped celery (include some leafy tops)
- 2 cups diced potatoes
- ¼ to ⅓ cup light miso
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a large covered soup pot on high heat, combine the split peas, water, bay leaves, marjoram, onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes.
- When the soup begins to boil, stir well, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook.
- Meanwhile, remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid and discard any hard stems.
- Slice or chop the softened mushrooms and add them to the soup.
- Strain the soaking liquid to remove any sediment or dirt and add the clear liquid to the soup pot.
- After the soup has simmered for about 30 minutes, stir it well.
- Maintain on low heat with occasional stirring or place the pot on a heat diffuser to prevent sticking and cook for another 20 minutes, until the split peas are very soft and the soup becomes "creamy" when stirred.
- Discard the bay leaves.
- Stir in ¼ cup of the miso, the salt, and pepper.
- Add more miso to taste and serve.
*You can find ½-ounce bags of dried mushrooms in the produce sections of many supermarkets. To soften, place the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl, cover with the boiling water, and set aside for about 20 minutes.
If you plan to serve the soup later, set it aside to cool a bit and then refrigerate it. Reheat gently before serving, stirring often to prevent scorching.
PER 13-OUNCE SERVING: 273 CALORIES.16.5 G PROTEIN, 1.4 G FAT, 51.1 G CARBO HYDRATES, 0.2 G SATURATED FATTY ACIDS. OMG CHOLESTEROL, 642 MG SODIUM, 17.3 G TOTAL DIETARY FIBER