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Leeks and fresh dill take cozy split pea soup from drab to fab

This split pea soup is a nourishing meal-in-a-bowl. Leek and dill lend it a delightfully different, aromatic flavor, but you could substitute onion and/or parsley or thyme, if need be.  (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
This split pea soup is a nourishing meal-in-a-bowl. Leek and dill lend it a delightfully different, aromatic flavor, but you could substitute onion and/or parsley or thyme, if need be. (Tom McCorkle/For the Washington Post)
By Ellie Krieger Special To The Washington Post

This soup isn’t supposed to excite me, but it does. It’s pea soup, after all, typically a metaphor for drab and boring. While it might not have the outright glamour of other soups, I am enamored with it nonetheless.

I love that it’s a warming, filling, meal-in-a-bowl – as cozy as the softest flannel PJs – made with few steps and minimal chopping. I also appreciate how incredibly nutrient-rich and economical it is.

But this particular split pea soup really lights me up because of its unique flavor, with leeks and fresh dill blending together to elevate it from merely practical to delightfully tasty, aromatic, even elegant. (You could substitute onion and/or parsley or thyme, if need be.)

I don’t expect everyone to be quite as tickled about it as I am – I realize I’m on the far end of the bell curve of soup enthusiasts. But I am pretty sure that anyone who tries this recipe will come to appreciate pea soup in a whole new way.

Split Pea Soup With Leeks and Dill

Several large sprigs fresh dill (about ½ medium bunch), plus more for optional garnish

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large leek, white and light green parts only, washed well and chopped

1 medium carrot (about 2 ounces), diced

2 ribs celery, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed and picked over for stones

8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Tie the dill, reserving a few sprigs for garnish if desired, and bay leaf together with kitchen twine.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the leek, carrot and celery and ¼ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the split peas, then add the broth, herb bundle, the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the peas have lost their shape and the soup looks creamy, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the herb bundle, taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle with the reserved dill, if using.

Yield: 6 servings

Storage notes: The soup can be refrigerated for as long as 4 days. It will thicken as it sits, so add broth or water as needed when reheating.

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