Stormy Weather. Split Pea and Bacon Soup, Stat.

by Sarah on May 11, 2010

The beautiful Miss Lena Horne died yesterday at the age of 92.  She was Boppa’s big crush.  I remember when I was living with my grandparents in the 90’s, we saw her on TV after dinner one night.  I can’t remember exactly what he said but basically, he’d had this big crush on her from the early 40’s when she was first in Panama Hattie.  He said that at the time she seemed so exotic looking.  I thought “exotic?” but didn’t really think anything of it… but a week or so ago I listened to an audio tape he made about his life and I learned that black people were basically not allowed in his little backwards town in Illinois.  No wonder she looked exotic!  He didn’t even see people of color until he went to Chicago to go to college.  No matter, he thought she was the cat’s meow.

Boppa with my dad Mike and little brother Bill

Anyway, it felt like a strange coincidence that NPR is playing “Stormy Weather” all day and right on cue, after a beautiful California weekend, we get more of that stormy weather.  I had to go out today and was promptly dumped on.  Like soaking wet from head to toe.  Like a drowned rat.  No bueno.  Dude, clouds, it’s MAY.

Thankfully it was near the end of the workday and I went on home after my appointment.  I jumped in a hot shower and then made soup.  Stormy weather just cries out for hot soup, don’t you think?  I hadn’t really planned on this meal, it is just made out of leftover stuff, but ended up being a tasty split pea and bacon soup.  I didn’t have any chicken stock so I just used this Knorr stuff.  You can sub chicken stock for the liquid if you like.  Also used but not pictured, 2 leeks and some bay leaves.

Cut the bacon into tiny bits.  I used this weird stuff “ends and pieces” that the man brought home because it was inexpensive.  G has got to be the cheapest man on the planet.  (And he just said, as we’re sitting here, how he wants to try the KFC Double Down.  Dear Lord.)  The bacon ends and pieces are ok to cook with but not so much for eating straight.

Back to the soup.  Fry the bacon bits until the fat is rendered and it is getting crisp.  Add the onion, celery, carrot and leeks.  Toss in a few bay leaves too.

Saute the whole mess until soft.  Don’t season it with salt yet because the bacon is pretty salty.

Add one whole package of split green peas and fill the Dutch oven with water.  My Dutch oven is 7.5 quarts.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

Add 4 potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces.  Unpeeled is fine.

Let it cook another 30-45 minutes.  Contemplate the crappy weather and be happy you’re not in it any longer.

The soup is ready when the peas and potatoes are tender.  Using a stick blender, food processor or blender, puree the soup–but not completely, you don’t want baby food.  Leave a few chunky bits in it.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper.

I don’t know why, but we always eat split pea soup with corn bread or corn muffins.  These beauties are made with the Jiffy mixes that cost about 30 cents.  I know, I know, they are franken food, but I still like their corn muffins!

This was a good simple soup.  Nice with the bacon instead of ham.  Try it, you might even have all the ingredients hanging around your house.

Split Pea and Bacon Soup


  • 1 package green split peas
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped or shredded carrot
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup chopped bacon (ends and pieces, or thick cut, if available)
  • 1 gallon water plus more if needed
  • 3 heaping spoonfuls Knorr chicken bouillon
  • (you can use canned chicken stock in place of the water and bouillon if you wish)


  • In a 7.5 qt Dutch oven, fry bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp. Add the onion, leek, carrots, celery and bay leaves and cook until the vegetables are soft.
  • Add the split peas, water and chicken bouillon (or stock)--you want the water level to be about 2" from the top of the Dutch oven. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Add the cut up potatoes and let continue to cook for another 30-45 minutes, or until the peas and potatoes are tender.
  • Puree the soup so that some chunks remain. You don't want it completely smooth. The best tool is a stick blender, but you can also use a food processor or blender.
  • Serve hot with corn bread or corn muffins.

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