Split Pea Soup with Bacon and Ramps
The weather has taken a chilly turn which is surprising for May 1. It's 55° and grey outside which definitely calls for soup. I adore split pea soup, I grew up with my parents making it anytime there was a left over ham bone or lamb shank and it's so nostalgic and comforting to me. When I procured ramps a few days ago I immediately thought of pairing them with peas and bacon and this soup really let's them shine.
*If you do not have ramps you could still make this soup and substitute a large leek and 2-3 thinly sliced garlic cloves and it would also be delicious.
What you need:
15 whole ramps
2 large carrots
2 celery stalks
4 slices good bacon
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaping tsp dried parsley
lots of salt and pepper (approx 1.5 tsp salt and .5 tsp pepper) but taste and add as you go
splash of dry white wine
8 cups water
1 lb of split peas
3 medium sized potatoes peeled and chopped into small pieces
Begin by chopping the bacon into one inch pieces and peeling and chopping your carrots and celery. Separate the green leaves from the white/red parts of the ramps and finely chop the whites. Cut the green parts of the ramp into one inch slices. Put a soup pot over medium heat and first add the bacon and render some of the fat down and begin to crisp it, maybe about 5 minutes. Now add butter, olive oil, carrots, celery, and white/red part of ramp. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables and bacon for 5-10 minutes over medium/low heat so they become fragrant and soften up. Deglaze the bottom with a splash of white wine and add parsley and green parts of the ramps. After a minute or two pour in the water and bring to a boil. Add another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Rinse the peas in a fine mesh strainer and add them to the pot along with the potatoes. If you have a parmesan rind add it to the pot now. Stir well and then reduce to a simmer. Cook stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom is not burning for about 40 minutes. When the peas and potatoes have fully softened I like to use a potato masher to mash up half of the soup, an immersion blender would be great but I don't have one. It will thicken up the soup by releasing potato and pea starch and give it a nice viscosity. If you think it's too thick add another 1/2 cup of water and mix. Taste for flavor and add a tad more salt and pepper if necessary. I hate to give exact amounts because depending on the bacon you used it may be more or less salty.
***I like to serve this with a drizzle of ramp oil at the end and more crispy bacon if you have it. I had previously blanched and frozen some of my ramps so I took a few of the leaves and puréed them with just enough olive oil to help the blender mix it.
If you are making this without ramps you could do an arugula and olive oil purée to add a nice pepperiness and get the same beautiful green color.