Pea soup with bacon

Peas and beans make superior cold-weather soups. They are rich and full of protein. I developed this recipe as a response to the flavorful but bland "Senate Bean Soup". Split peas are very healthy, but when you go adding all of this bacon to them the healthfulness is diminished a bit in the interests of flavor.


(Makes 16 cups)


  1. Soak the peas for 6 hours and no more. Use 1 teaspoon salt per quart of soaking water. Drain; discard the soaking water.
  2. Cook the bacon until crisp; drain, dry, and discard fat. The bacon should be crisp enough that the pieces will crumble as you stir the soup while it is cooking. I put it on my broiler pan and bake it for 30 minutes at
  3. In a stockpot, put the cooked bacon, the butter, the celery, and 1 cup of the onion. Sautae over medium heat until the onion begins to brown.
  4. Add the beef broth, the soaked and drained beans, the mashed potato flakes (or mashed potato) and the parsley. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours, or until the peas are tender.
  5. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chopped onion, and the minced garlic.
  6. In a tea ball, or tied in cheesecloth, put the bay leaves, the peppercorns, and the cardamom seeds. Simmer for another 1/2 hour.
  7. Remove the tea ball or cheesecloth. Add salt to taste, being careful not to add more than 2 teaspoons.
  8. Pour in the cognac and the hot pepper oil, stir well, and serve immediately. Sprinkle some chopped fresh chives on top of each bowl after serving it. If you don't have fresh chives, then stir some dried snipped chives into the soup 5 minutes before serving it.


Some bacon is very salty. You can remove most of the salt from it without materially affecting its flavor by boiling the cut, uncooked bacon pieces for 1 minute in a few quarts of water, then discarding the water and then drying the pieces with paper towels before cooking.

Because the cooked peas have the ability to block your taste buds somewhat, make sure you rinse your mouth with a drink of water after each time you taste the soup while seasoning it, else you will overseason it. Incremental seasoning of legume soups is tricky, so if you are inexperienced, measure the seasonings carefully.

I like to serve soups like this with unbuttered fresh bread.

If you want to fool with the recipe, one of the places to fool with it is the spices that you put in the tea ball. Try some combination of Indian seasonings (coriander and cumin and ginger and cloves) or try taking out the peppercorns and cardamom seeds and putting in mustard seeds.

Outside the tea ball, try adding sesame oil at the end instead of the cognac. Try adding rutabagas, chopped into cubes, at the beginning of the cooking. Try substituting olive oil for the butter, and adding a half cup of grated Peccorino Romano at the end, right before serving. And, of course, try using ham hocks instead of bacon.


Difficulty: easy to moderate (balancing the seasonings can be tricky).
Time: 6 hours soaking, 45 minutes preparation, 3 or more hours cooking.
Precision: Measure the seasonings.


Brian Reid 
DEC Western Research Laboratory, Palo Alto, Calif., USA 
reid@decwrl.DEC.COM {ihnp4,ucbvax,decvax,sun,pyramid}!decwrl!reid 
Recipe last modified: 20 Jan 86

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Path: decwrl!recipes
From: reid@glacier (Brian Reid)
Newsgroups: mod.recipes
Subject: RECIPE: Pea soup with bacon
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Date: 17 Oct 86 03:34:25 GMT
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