Have you ever discovered something that everyone else knows about, but it’s new to you? On a recent trip to Santa Barbara, from the back seat of a friend’s car, I just happened to spot a towering sign that read “Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn“. Andersen’s is actually in Buellton, just a few miles from Santa Barbara, and it’s a well-known landmark. News to me! We ate breakfast at a popular diner across the street, and as soon as the bill was settled, I walked over to the inn. There was a market inside, and I scurried through folks waiting to dine to peek at the goods on the shelves. Thanks to Andersen’s peas, this recipe was born.
Andersen’s is known for pea soup, and if I hadn’t just finished brunch, I would’ve ordered a bowl to go. In fact, I should’ve done just that. At least I have reason to return to Buellton when the craving for pea soup comes on strong. I don’t think that happens regularly for anyone, but you never know. Back at home, I scanned the recipe, thinking I would make the Andersen’s classic. When it came down to it, I did anything but that.
This version of split pea soup is a blend of a few of my favorite flavors. Smoked paprika and fragrant saffron are at the heart of it, but the bacon definitely rounds out the final dish. Fresh parsley lightens each spoonful. Hopefully Andersen’s would approve. If you’re a fan of pea soup, here is a new one for you to try this winter.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup diced carrot
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2½ cups split peas
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 8½ cups vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup cooked, chopped bacon, divided*
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion, and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and begun to turn translucent. Stir in the garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Pour the split peas, potatoes, vegetable broth and bay leaves into the pot. Turn the heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle the saffron threads, paprika, ¾ cup of the bacon and 1 tablespoon of parsley into the soup. Cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the salt.
- Carefully ladle half of the soup into a blender, and process until smooth. Pour back into the pot, and serve. Garnish each bowl of soup with a little bit of the reserved bacon and parsley.
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