Creamy Split Pea and Bacon Soup
Split peas are the pressure cooker’s forbidden food – too thick and foamy to be cooked without a care. Here’s my version of this classic American soup and a list of precautions to cook this magical legume safely.
About this recipe..
A reader posted quite a long list of requests in the forum for recipes he’d like to see on this website. I’d been meaning to make this one in particular because I had never really cooked green split-peas and I wanted to confirm their cooking time for the time chart.
Split-pea pressure cooking times online and in books and manuals are anywhere from 4 to 40 minutes. Lorna Sass, a prolific and famous pressure cooker cookbook author, writes 10. My testing found that 5 minutes, plus the requisite Natural Release, gets the split-peas to just-staring-to-fall-apart-tender with just enough edges sticking up to make the soup hearty.
In case you’re wondering why this recipe uses the same cooking time for both stove top pressure cookers – especially since the density of legumes usually dictates otherwise – it’s because the extra time the electric pressure cooker will need for Natural Release compensates for the extra cooking time the split peas need.
Since I’ve never made, or even tasted, split pea soup I started by converting a split-peas soup recipe pretty much without too many changes- a typical soup that requires stock and ham cubes. The soup itself was “ok.” But it was a ruddy brownish color (not bright green anymore) and whenever a piece of ham made its way onto the spoon it was just spongy and tasteless – all the flavor having been transferred to the soup. So, I used the porkiest product I could find and I naturally went straight for smoked pancetta (bacon!). I made the soup again, this time using only water – to keep it green.
Finally, a soup that lets you really taste the natural sweetness of split peas and give you an emerald-green soup plus the occasional crunchy salty bit. Beyond experimenting, split peas have earned a permanent place in my pantry, and I hope that with this recipe they will earn a spot in yours!
Split-pea warning and precautions
Most pressure cooker manuals include a standard line warning against pressure cooking split-peas primarily because they can gum-up the safety valves. Split-pea soup can be so thick the split peas can hide a bubble of super-hot steam that will pop and splatter on the cook if the pressure cooker is opened using a fast pressure release method.
Follow ALL of these precautions when pressure cooking them:
|Pressure Cooker||Accessories||Pr. Cook Time||Pr. Level||Open|
|5 L or larger||none||5 min.||High(2)||Natural|
- Serves: serves 4-6
- Serving size: ⅙th (about 1½ cups)
- Calories: 171.5
- TOTAL Fat: 7.6g
- TOTAL Carbs: 18.4g
- Sugar Carbs: 4.0g
- Sodium: 404.8mg
- Fiber Carbs: 6.3g
- Protein: 8.5g
- Cholesterol: 13mg
- 3.5 oz (100g) bacon or smoked pancetta, sliced into lardons
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 carrot, large diced
- 2 cups (410g) dried green split peas, rinsed
- 6 cups (1.5L) water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Add the pancetta to the cold pressure cooker base on medium heat (brown/saute' setting for electrics). When the fat begins to render and the pancetta begins to fry in the fat, stir it around and let it sizzle until crispy. Using a fork, or slotted spoon, remove the pancetta - leaving the rendered fat in the base of the pressure cooker- and set aside.
- Add the onion, celery and carrot to the base of the pressure cooker and saute' them in the pancetta fat until the onions have softened (about 5 more minutes) - use the wetness of the veggies to lift the brown fond that will have formed on the base.
- Add the split peas, water bay leaf and salt. Mix well and make sure that the pressure cooker is no more than ½ full (the 6.5l I'm in the photos is only ⅓ full)
- Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
- For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 5 minutes pressure cooking time.
- When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, disengage the “keep warm” mode or unplug the cooker and open when the pressure indicator has gone down (20 to 30 minutes).
- Mix into the soup about half of the crispy pancetta, remove the bay leaf, and serve the soup with the rest of the pancetta bits as garnish.