Vegan Split Pea Soup: Cozy Comfort Food at its Finest.
Split pea soup is not something I grew up with, a fact likely attributable to me spending most of my life in tropical parts of the world. However, after my first magical spoonful at the famous Pea Soup Andersen’s, on a chilly Northern California January day during a road trip in college, I was hooked. Split pea soup is one of those foods that (to me, at least) sound a bit bland and unappealing in theory, but when prepared nicely, can be really flavorful and satisfying. Much to my frequent restaurant frustration, though, I have found that split pea soup is often - if not usually - prepared with bacon and/or ham hocks. My easy, homemade version attempts to encompass the best of both worlds; like Andersen’s, it is totally vegan-friendly, but gets a shock of super-savory, traditional flavor from vegan “bacon” and liquid smoke (a magical condiment that gives food a hickory smoked flavor- from a bottle! Amazing!). If you are gluten intolerant or simply do not like to use faux meats, simply eliminate the Smart Bacon and up the liquid smoke.
-1 pound dried split peas
-6 cups veggie or faux chicken broth (I used Better than Bouillon chickenless broth)
-1 large white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
-1 1/2-2 cups chopped celery
-4 cloves chopped garlic
-3 slices Smart “Bacon,” ripped into quarter-sized pieces
-1-2 tbsp liquid smoke (start with one and season gradually, tasting to detect your smokiness preferences)
-1 tbsp olive oil
At the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil, and sauté the onions, celery and Smart Bacon until the onions just begin to go clear. Stir often, as the Smart Bacon loves to stick. Add the garlic and sauté for about two minutes more. Pour in the broth and peas, and bring to a rolling boil. Let boil uncovered for about five minutes, then reduce the heat to low, add the liquid smoke, and let simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Once the peas are cooked through, blend using an immersion blender until smooth (or, transfer to a blender and blend in batches). Serve with flaky, warm bread or a scoop of barley. Savor the coziness.