You'll notice something different about this recipe for split pea soup: It calls for sausage instead of ham. The substitution came on a whim, when I had extra sausage to use up. After a couple of tries, I found that chorizo provided the most distinctive taste.
A few other tweaks to this classic soup followed. I added sage, since it is one of my go-to herbs when I use pork (a little bit of sage goes a long way here). I also switched from using water to chicken stock as the main liquid for the soup.
That's one of the best things about making soups: experimenting with what you have on hand. You can make a recipe your own by varying just one or two ingredients, as I did with the split pea soup. If I do not have sage, I substitute thyme. Changing the kind of sausage or using ham imparts an entirely different taste.
As always, the soup will be at its best if fresh ingredients are used. Visit L. E. Kincaid & Sons, Claus' German Sausage and Meats, or your favorite butcher and ask for their best chorizo or other sausage. Buying or baking a loaf of crusty bread to accompany the soup is also worth the extra time and effort.
1. In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. If using chorizo, slice it thinly before cooking. If using bulk sausage, break the sausage into small pieces while cooking.
3. Remove the sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon; place on paper towels and set aside.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low; add onions, salt and pepper to pot and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the puréed garlic and cook 1 minute.
6. Stir in carrots and celery and cook
7. Add diced potatoes, dried split peas, chicken stock and bay leaf and bring to a simmer; cook 45 minutes or until peas are soft.
8. Add reserved sausage and simmer for 5 minutes.
9. Stir in parsley and sage and serve.