This is my favorite split pea soup recipe for one reason: added grains. I use to make traditional split pea soup and then one day the lightbulb went on over my head! Add some chewy grains to it! Not only does that add texture, but really ramps up the nutrition. This is full of fiber and is also low-fat and low-calorie.
I also learned that cumin takes split pea soup over the top. Years ago when in DC, a group of us were eating at (I believe the name was) The American Cafe in the Union Station train terminal. I would never order split pea soup in a restaurant because it's something I can make so easily at home. Thank goodness one of my friends did! She made us all taste it and everyone loved it. I've never made it without cumin since.
This is a great soup to have in the fridge when you need a snack but don't want to go the chip route. However, it just so happens to make a wonderful dip for tortilla chips.
SPLIT PEA SOUP with BARLEY/WHEATBERRIES/FARRO (6-8 servings)
8 oz split peas
ham hock, pork jowl, or ham bone, optional
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
3 tsp garlic
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium red or russet potato, peeled (optional) and cubed
1/4 cup uncook pearl barley (if you choose wheatberries or farro, cook those separately and then add at the end)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning (I use Joe's Hot Stuff or Nunu's)
1 tsp Montreal seasoning
S&P to taste
parmesan cheese, for garnish, optional
Put split peas, ham (if using), celery, onion, and garlic. Fill with water (NOTE TO SELF: originally said to add about 1" above the split peas. NO....just enough to cover, then add more as needed). Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer, cover (with lid partially open) and cook about 30 minutes. Add carrot, potato, and uncooked barley. Add a bit more water. Cook at a simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
Add seasoning to taste. If using cooked wheatberries or farro, add at this point. Serve garnished with grated or shaved Parmesan cheese.