This traditional Portuguese soup is easy, nourishing, and surprisingly delicious.
Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham
Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost-Paleo
This recipe is my version of the ideal, traditional split pea soup. It’s the same version I’ve been making, without amendment, since I developed it and scribbled it into my recipe notebook back in 2004, under the heading, “As It Should Be Split Pea Soup.” It looks and tastes like split pea soup is supposed to taste, and contrary to my usual creative bent, I never change a thing. Split Pea Soup is a classic. I say, don’t mess with it!
The flavor secrets in this bowl of smoky, sweet, satisfying goodness are marjoram, and three kinds of onions: yellow onion, shallot, and leek.
As a super-affordable source of protein, iron, and fiber, split peas are hard to beat. But if you are on a gut-healing diet like AIP or Paleo, peas fall into a gray area for compatibility. The science behind this is best left to the experts, but if you want to look more deeply into the whys of legume-avoidance, I recommend this article from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D. (aka The Paleo Mom): The Green Bean Controversy and Pea-Gate
On the bright side, it sounds like the levels of phytates (an anti-nutrient found in dried legumes) are substantially lower in green beans and peas than they are in other types of dried beans. There are simple measures you can take to diminish any downside to eating split peas. Soaking them for a few hours and then cooking gently over low heat is a time-honored way to do the trick.
Here’s some info about the thyroid-friendly nutrients in this dish:
- 1 cup of cooked split peas provides 16 grams of protein, 14% DV for Iron, and 16 grams of dietary fiber (this can help alleviate constipation).
- 1 cup of carrots provides 428% DV of Vitamin A, which may be a key factor in preventing hypothyroidism.
- Bone broth is one of the most highly recommended foods for anyone suffering from an autoimmune disease. The collagen and glycine can help repair cell damage in the intestinal tract.
Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham
This recipe is my version of the ideal, traditional split pea soup. Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost-Paleo.
- 2 cups dried split peas
- 1 tbsp. avocado oil, or heat-stable cooking fat of choice
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 medium leek, white part only, finely diced
- 3-4 medium carrots, peeled, medium dice
- 3 celery ribs, medium dice
- 4 cups chicken stock, (preferably homemade)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups diced smoked ham, NOT honeyed, preferably nitrate-free
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried marjoram
- freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste
Cover the split peas with plenty of fresh, filtered water and soak 7 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
Place a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, garlic, shallot, leek, carrots, celery, and a splash of chicken stock. Saute the vegetables, stirring occasionally, 5–10 minutes or until slightly softened.
Add chicken stock, water, soaked split peas, smoked ham, bay leaves, thyme and marjoram. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer approx. 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. The soup is done when the peas are tender, with some starting to fall apart and thicken the soup.
Taste the soup first, before adjusting seasoning with additional salt and pepper. Some chicken broths and some hams have a sufficient amount of salt.