Split pea soup is easy to do in large quantities.

Making mass quantities of food, then freezing meal-size portions can save time. The frozen portions can be thawed in the refrigerator for a day, then re-heated on the stove or in the microwave.

Split pea soup handles freezing very well compared to, say, vegetable soup, which tends to turn into mush after freezing.

Extra ingredients can be varied. Adding ham, broth, wine, other vegetables, and various seasonings, is a matter of taste. Try different things and see what you like. Onion and garlic are obvious additions, as well as carrot, celery, and maybe even potato. Be sure to add some seasoning: bay leaf, salt and pepper, possibly Mrs. Dash, and thyme or dill or rosemary.

Vary your recipes and get to know what works for you.

SPLIT PEA SOUP

This recipe yields about 12 servings, 72 ounces (about 2 liters). It takes about 30 minutes of work and 2 or so hours of elapsed time. This can be done on a weekend morning. Then you can have some lunch, cool what's left, refrigerate a couple servings, and freeze the rest.

Ingredients

    2 lbs. (close to a kilo) dry split peas
    14.5 oz. (almost a liter) low-sodium broth (beef or vegetable)
    7 cups (a liter and a half or so) water
    1 very large white onion, or 2 or 3 smaller ones, diced
    3 to 6 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
    1 medium carrot, grated or finely diced (optional)
    1 stick of celery, finely diced (optional)
    6 oz. of ham, diced small, or 6 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
    2 Tbsp. olive oil
    1 bay leaf
    1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash
    1/2 tsp. thyme
    1/4 tsp. pepper
    1 teaspoon salt

The quantities above require a 4 to 6 quart pot (4 or 5 liters). If the intended pot is smaller, cut the quantities to 1/2 or 3/4, or else use two pots.

If you have a very large slow cooker (crock pot), use it. That saves a lot of stirring and will cook mostly unattended. Allow about another hour elapsed time if you use the slow cooker.

Select the vegetables, then peel and chop, grate or mince, as appropriate. Add them to the pot with a small amount of oil.

Rinse the peas in another pot or bowl. Add water, push peas around a bit, drain, and repeat. A colander that fits in the top of the pot or bowl should help. Foam and debris is released from the packaged dried peas. That material floats away or sinks to the bottom.

Add peas, broth and water to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. You may skim any foamy stuff off the top. Simmer for 45 minutes. Stir the pot every 15 minutes or so, and add more water if needed. If using a crock pot, just stir after an hour and then reduce the heat. The peas will first expand and then shrink. Keep them just covered with liquid-- water, broth. Maybe add a little wine, but avoid adding anything acid to beans or peas when they start cooking-- it tends to harden them if added too soon. After the peas have cooked about an hour and a half, add the seasonings. Cook 1/2 hour more.

You should know the soup is done because, after expanding, the peas break down and the level in the pot goes down a little. Taste and see what's happening. Possibly add more liquid or seasoning. If it's too soupy, let it boil away a little longer. It's hard to over cook this soup, as long as you don't burn it.

When cooked, you have a large quantity of soup. Separate what you won't eat in the next two days into 2 to 4 quart plastic containers, allow them to cool a half-hour, then seal the containers and put them in the freezer. If you need to freeze larger quantities it may help to put ice and water in the sink and put the pot in there before freezing.

For a special occasion, you might puree this in a blender or food processor and make a great appetizer. Perhaps top the soup with a sprinkle of lemon juice, or some grated cheese, or a teaspoon of sour cream.

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