Split Pea Soup with Smoked Turkey

split peas

As soon as there is any chill in the air, I want to make soups and stews. And I am the kind of person that generally likes a soup to be thick enough to stand up a spoon! I think about and read about and plan food ALL the time, but I am not into chi-chi foods. The very thought that people pay good money to have a mist of  truffle reduction sprayed in their direction and have it called “dinner” is unfathomable to me. I appreciate innovation as much as the next person, but when I sit down to a meal, I want to know what I am eating and I want it to have real bite and mouth-feel. Pea soup is not especially pretty and likely will not be served at an elegant dinner, but there are few more sole-satisfying soups on a chilly night. Serve it with good bread and a salad and you have dinner. This can easily be made ahead – even frozen – and it will just get better and better as long as you don’t burn it when re-warming it. I make a LOT. It makes great lunches for the week as well. You can easily halve this recipe. There is just something so safe and comforting having a big pot of soup on the stove….    Split pea soup

Split Pea Soup

Yields: About 3 quarts of soup


2 pounds split green peas or a mix of green and yellow

3-4 stalks of celery, with leaves, sliced

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced

1 large turnip, peeled and cubed

2 smallish potatoes (red or Yukon Gold), peeled and diced

2-3 smoked turkey legs (I look for the ones with the darkest color) You can also used a smoked pork butt or ham hocks

1 teaspoon whole cloves

6 cups broth (chicken, or beef is fine)

6 cups tap water

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the smoked turkey legs in a large Dutch Oven or heavy pot with a lid. smoke turkey legs
  2. Rinse the split peas in a colander and pick out any stones or things that don’t look like they belong (it’s generally some other grain or a pea that didn’t split properly). Immediately add them to the pot. If they sit in the strainer for too long they will stick together like cement!
  3. Add all of the other ingredients to the pot except for the salt and pepper. pea soup ingredientsAlways add these at the end. Since I am using homemade stock, it is unsalted. You can buy unsalted stock and I recommend that, but if you use stock with salt, wait to adjust seasonings since the salt may become more intense with cooking.
  4. Cover the pot and slowly bring to a simmer. This is a abig pot and you don’t want to rush it and have the peas burn.
  5. When the liquid comes to a simmer, skim it if necessary to remove any scummy stuff, which is actually just some of the protein being given off by the turkey. I didn’t need to skim this time.
  6. Once the pot is simmering, make sure it is covered tightly and let it gently simmer for 2 hours. Periodically check it and give the pot a stir so the peas don’t stick to the bottom and burn. You should have enough liquid. but if you must add some, add boiling water so everything is covered by about 2 inches of liquid.
  7. Once the two hours are up, allow the soup to cool. Once it is cool enough to handle, remove the turkey legs and on a cutting board, remove the skin and bones with your fingers. Keep the meat to the side until you finish the next step. If you are using a pork butt, just remove the butt and cube the meat.
  8. You can puree the soup using a food mill or an immersion blender. Frances and my son gave me an immersion blender a couple of years ago and it is one of the most beloved kitchen appliances I have. It’s even ORANGE!
  9. Now add the meat back to the pot. Check your seasonings and add your salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE: When this soup cools down, you WILL be able to stand a spoon up. Don’t rush to add liquid to thin it out. Gently warm it and only after you see the consistency, consider adding any additional liquid.

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