We know, we know, it’s a funny color and reminds you of your Great Aunt Marge’s vintage cookbooks—but hear us out. Split pea soup is actually delicious (not to mention simple) when made with a few additional ingredients to maximize its flavor. Our recipe is dressed up with sweet, tender carrots, smoky bacon and, yep, an entire can of beer for a modern take on a classic, comforting soup.
Psst: The beer is what gives this soup a well-rounded flavor without a ton of effort on your part, but if you want to skip it, you can use an equal amount of water or chicken stock instead. The croutons (texture) and sherry vinegar (acid) are optional…but not reallllly.
6 ounces bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 16-ounce bag (about 2 cups) green split peas, rinsed
One 12-ounce can Miller High Life or any pale lager
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups cubed sourdough
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (optional)
1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until the fat starts to render, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the onion and carrot and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the split peas and enough water to cover completely (about 3 cups); add the beer. Bring the soup to a simmer, then cover and cook gently until the lentils are falling apart, stirring periodically and adding water as needed, 1½ to 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the cubed bread and cook until golden brown and toasted, tossing frequently, 5 to 8 minutes.
4. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed. Stir in the sherry vinegar, if using. Serve topped with croutons and more freshly ground black pepper.