Fact: Before this recipe, I had never made (or tasted!) split pea soup, nor had I ever bought the dried little peas from the supermarket, cute as they may be.
Fact: Before this recipe, I had never made (or tasted!) anything with barley in it, nor had I ever bought the hearty stuff from the supermarket.
Fact: I was nervous about this soup. Very, very nervous. I had “dinner plan b” all set out and ready to go in case of failure.
Fact: I have been heavily converted to split peas and barley. Oh my. This soup is incredible! Thick and hearty, bursting with homey flavor, it is a creamy, nearly stew-like consistency loaded with salty bits of ham and the wonderful texture of the chewy barley. The peas (which you already know if you are a split pea aficionado) dissolve into a creamy, silky concoction that melds all the components together. It all comes together so perfectly that my hesitation and concern over potential weirdness had no foundation. No weirdness, only yumminess.
Fact: It is healthy. You should love me for that fact alone. Granted, it may not be the most photogenic of all soups, but it is nutritious. And delicious. Did I mention that?
Fact: If you are hesitant about split peas and barley (like I once was!), I guarantee you’ll love this. Chock full of vegetables and other wonderful goodness, this is the perfect solution to winter weather (the same winter weather that obviously hasn’t received my memo to skedaddle promptly).
Fact: Last one, I promise. It’s a cinch to prepare. We are talking minutes. Then a few hour bask in the slow cooker and you are ready to devour.
In a medium bowl or liquid measure, combine the water, bouillon cubes and spices and whisk to combine (it’s ok if the bouillon cubes don’t completely dissolve).
In a medium round slow cooker (about 4-quart), layer peas, barley, ham, carrots, onion and celery. Do not mix. Pour in the water/spices mixture and add the bay leaf to the slow cooker. Don’t stir! Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or on low eight hours, until the peas reach the desired creamy, soft texture. Remove the bay leaf, stir well, and add salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve immediately. Upon sitting and/or refrigerating, this soup thickens considerably. Simply add water or chicken broth to thin the soup to the desired consistency before reserving.
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