split pea soup + crispy hotdogs
This is how I imagine a conversation about this soup would go between you and me...
Me: You should really make this split pea soup and then put crispy hotdogs on top. Also, let's call the hotdog pieces "meat croutons" - what do ya say??
You [making the same face my husband made that one time I was high as a kite on a combo of industrial strength French cold meds and French wine, trying desperately to explain that I’d just seen deceased artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in the bathroom of our flat during a midnight wee]: Woman, what the hell are you talking about??
Me: Trust me, it's sooooo good! Anyway, Chrissy Teigen told me to do it, so ask her about it if you doubt me.
You [still with the face]: Wait...what??
Lucky for me, my computer screen is shielding me from your perplexed expression. Because - perplexity be damned! - my vote is for you to make this split pea soup and then serve it with a thin-sliced and dry-sauteed hotdog or two piled messily on top.
It's also true that I first got the idea Chrissy Teigen's Cravings while deeply ensconced in a Cravings bender last year, though, duh, it's nothing new. As usual, I was late to the party and had never even so much as tasted a bite of split pea soup when I came across hers. I also hadn't eaten a hotdog in over two decades, after an unfortunate elementary school birthday party experience (don't ask) had traumatized me into a lifetime commitment of hotdog hatership. Shockingly, one expertly chargrilled (all beef, nitrate free) hotdog smothered in silky carmelized onions and sharp Dijon mustard from the Let’s Be Frank stand around the corner was all it took to cure my hotdog hatred. The soup, on the other hand, took me much longer to fall in love with. That is to say, this is not the split pea soup recipe from Cravings. This is the fun-loving big sister to the Teigen version - more complex and luxurious, though still not too serious to be complimented by a crispy hotdog topping.
You see, while I loved the high-low concept of the meat croutons (don't fight it), I could never commit to adding them in along with the aromatics that make up the base layer of flavor, as that recipe called for. I always left them out, which left my soup understandably bland. Then there was the textural element I felt needed attention. Cooked split peas in general are either creamy or not, but what I really wanted was a little of both. And lastly, the bread croutons in the Teigen version (i.e., hot dog buns fried to perfection in butter and served as garnish with the meaty ones) took it to a calorically impractical, albeit very tasty, level for the mid-week dinners when I'm craving wholesome, easy comfort food the most.
After months of unsatisfying tests and tweaks, I came to my senses and did a google for an entirely new split pea soup recipe only to find that Ina Garten had been doing the damn thing - and doing it well - this whole time. Of course she had! She's Ina Freakin Garten - the woman who discovered a perfectly manicured garden randomly one day in the backyard of her primary residence and then threw a televised lunch party* there to celebrate the discovery. Even her green slop soup is elevated – and Geoffrey just adores it too, I’m sure.
By the time I found the Ina recipe I had acquired some serious feelings about split pea soup, so that even Ina's version required some tweaking on my part. And this recipe right here? It is for the split pea soup of my dreams. It's creamy, but with a little bite that’s achieved by adding some split peas halfway through cook time so that they don't soften all the way. It’s rich and hearty but also healthful, and even vegetarian if you use veg broth and omit the meat croutons. (Speaking of vegetarian, hieeee to all my veg friends! If you’re still reading this I’m sorry for saying meat croutons so many times plz don’t h8 me for saying it one more time). Long story long, if you've been on the hunt for a split pea soup to satisfy your weird and comfort-craving soul, here she is all dressed up in her best meat croutons and ready to please.
*UGH, I can't find this clip anywhere on the internet, and seeing that I'm at an airport staring at an overpriced plate of dinner that I need to woof down before my flight in 20 mins (because I wasted the majority of my layover searching for that stupid episode of Barefoot Contessa online) I'm throwing in the towel for now. Trust, it was ridic.
1 medium to large chopped yellow onions
2 cloves garlic, minced (or grated using a zester)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 carrots, cut into small coins (or half coins if they’re super fat ones)
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
2 medium (or 4 small) Yukon gold or red potatoes
1 pound dried split green peas (about 3 cups)
7 cups stock (chicken or vegetable) or water with an extra pinch of salt; plus potentially an additional cup for a total of 8 depending on how much yours cooks down and how creamy vs. soupy you like it, we landed just shy of 7.5 cups.
Set a 4-quart Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, add the oil and allow it to heat up for just a minute. Add the onions, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper and sauté until the onions are translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, potatoes, 2.5 cups or split peas, and stock. Give it a good stir and raise the heat to that you bring to a boil. Once it boils turn the heat down, then simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Skim off the foam occasionally while cooking but don’t worry about removing it all.
After 40 minutes, add the remaining split peas and continue to simmer for another 40 minutes, or until all the split peas are soft enough to enjoy - some will be as soft as the potatoes, others will have slightly more bite but, pleasantly so. Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom, and add more water, a splash at a time, until the soup is the consistency you like best.
When the soup is ready to serve, grab about a hotdog per serving and slice them thinly. Sauté in a dry skillet until they are nicely browned and crispy. Top each bowl of soup with meat croutons and dig in.
Reheating note: If you’ve made this in a Dutch oven as (and possibly even more so if your pot isn’t heavy-bottomed) burning on the bottom of the pan is *twice* as likely to occur on the reheat.