Split Pea Soup in the Pressure Cooker

split-pea-soup
Split pea may possibly be my absolute favorite winter food. The leaves fall, the rain comes, and it’s time for a big bowl of green goodness. In the past, I’ve made it in the crockpot, but sometimes it ends up tasting a little overcooked—especially if bacon is involved. This version, in the pressure cooker, will definitely be my new standard. You cook the peas and vegetables in two separate steps to avoid a big pile o’ mush. But be careful: unless you have an enormous pressure cooker, you’ll need to cover the split peas so as to avoid blowing a hole in your ceiling. Trust me on this one.

A note on meat vs. non-meat: I like my pork. Sometimes I throw in a ham end. Sometimes I use bacon. Sometimes I use bacon fat. And sometimes, I make it vegan. What you do is up to do.

Split Pea Soup in the Pressure Cooker

2 c. dried split peas
1 T. bacon fat or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium or 1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium turnip, chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, chopped
a few sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper

1. Put the split peas with 4 c. water in a covered heat-proof bowl on the steamer rack in your pressure cooker. If you don’t have an appropriate bowl with a lid, just use a small mixing bowl covered with foil. (See pictures of this technique on this post on barley in the pressure cooker.) Add 1 c. water to the pressure cooker to create steam. Cover and lock the lid. Cook at 15 pounds pressure for 10 minutes.

2. Release the pressure and take the bowl out of the pressure cooker. Drain the liquid at the bottom of the pressure cooker, but keep the liquid in the split pea bowl. Set it aside.

3. Meanwhile, saute the onions and garlic in your chosen fat. I let mine get fairly brown. If you want to save time, do this in a separate pan while the split peas cook; if you want to save dishes, wait, and fry them up in the pressure cooker itself once you’ve taken out the bowl.

4. Combine the onions, the split peas and their liquid, the thyme, and all the vegetables in the pressure cooker. Add another cup of water or so. Close and lock the lid. Bring to pressure and cook for 3 mintes. Let the pressure drop of its own accord, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Variations: It’s soup. It’s mean to be flexible. Add or subtract soup vegetables as desired.

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8 comments to Split Pea Soup in the Pressure Cooker

  • RSR

    What’s the total time it usually takes for the cooker to come up to pressure, to cook, then for the pressure to drop?

    I use a Cooks Illustrated recipe (non pressure cooker) which begins with a 2 – 2 1/2 hour simmer of a small smoked bone-in picnic ham and a few bay leaves, creating a ham stock of sorts. Then the peas are simmered for about an hour. They also do the addition of well-browned mirepoix and potatoes with about 20 minutes left.

    How long would you think the broth-making step would take in a pressure cooker? I think it could probably save a great deal of time.

    As for the pea cooking part, the time to come up to pressure and then cool down then back up again and down again after adding the mirepoix doesn’t seem that efficient.

  • admin

    It’s much faster. My non-ham bone version took about 45 minutes from start to finish. If I were using a ham bone, I would use a giant pressure cooker, to remove the need to cover the peas, and throw in the ham bone at the same time. It will take a big PC a bit longer to come to pressure, but if you’ve got a powerful stove, you’re still looking at, say, 20 minutes. Then 10 minutes at pressure, then a quick release. You’re now at a half-hour. Put in the remaining vegetables and bring it back up to speed, then cook another 3 minutes (23 more minutes). With a big pressure cooker, you can probably quick release safely. You’re still at less than an hour. Since I wasn’t using a ham bone, I was able to use my little pressure cooker, which comes up to pressure in well under 10 minutes. So yes, it’s super fast, compared to cooking a soup for 3 hours.

  • RSR

    I only have a six quart cooker, so I’d probably just make the broth under pressure, and then cook the peas for the hour traditionally.

    In addition, the separate steps allow me time to cool the ham and shred it.

    How long would you cook the ham under pressure alone to generate a broth? (i’m guessing somewhere in the range of 20 minutes to a 1/2 hour? That’d knock my total cook time down by at least 50%, which would still be great.)

  • admin

    20 minutes sounds like more than enough time. I think you’d get pretty good flavor in 10, given what I’ve done with beef stews–and besides, the ham’s already cooked.

  • I love all your pressure cooker info. Thank you. I have a small guy and have used it for grains and stuff, but no canning yet. Never thought I could do it in there. Your jars of chicken stock make me so envious. My freezer is cluttered with containers of the stuff!!

  • I love split pea soup, i did in fact made it wity my pressur cooker but not exactly with your recipe, I will try it step by stpe using your recipe, soudn delecious, thank you for sharing.
    presto pressure cooker

  • I would like to know if you must use the pressure cooker method to can split pea soup? Can you use the cold pak method?
    Thanks

  • dorisandjilly

    Kathy,
    I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “cold pack”–my internet searches for that term suggested a technique where you put cold food into hot jars and then boil them, and, obviously, soup isn’t cold. But more to the point: vegetables cannot be processed in a boiling water bath canner, and split peas are most certainly a vegetable. This soup is nowhere near acidic enough to be safe for water-bath canning.

    If you wish to preserve this soup, your best option is a freezer. While it is possible to pressure can split pea soup, you would need to process the jars for upwards of 60 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for pint jars. Please see the National Center for Home Food Preservation Web site for more information on canning bean soups.

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