A Week of Pulses. Italian Split Green Pea and Potato Soup.

As part of my return to more regular blogging, I’ve decided to highlight a different pantry staple each month, since we’re all spending far more time in our kitchens. My concoctions are mostly vegetarian, except for the occasional addition of anchovy. You can find most of my recipes from the last six years by clicking on the word Recipe, found on the left hand side Index of this page. This may appear in a different spot if using a phone. The recipes are filed under different categories and most of them rely on seasonal food or frugal pantry staples. This month’s offerings will focus on pulses- which include all styles of lentils, split peas and dried beans. Today’s lentil dish is an Italian version of  split green pea soup, a dish you would normally find in British or Portuguese/Spanish cuisines, laced with salty ham bones. I was keen to try Marcella Hazan’s version: it’s economical and nutritious. The recipe does ask for the addition of some parmesan cheese, making the dish quite Italian in style: remove the cheese and the soup resembles the old style split pea potage or caldo. I enjoyed this Italian version, it has a much finer texture than others of this genre, but I’m looking anxiously at my small wedge of remaining Parmigiano Reggiano, knowing that it might best be reserved for pasta and risotto dishes. To anyone out there who is still shopping, can you please bring me a very large wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano or Grano Padano. First world problems.

Most recipes require a little tweaking and this was certainly the case for Marcella’s recipe here. She doesn’t suggest pre-soaking the split green peas overnight but I advise on the importance of this preliminary step to hasten the cooking. The following recipe includes my adaptations. It is easy to scale up the recipe for a larger group or to store for later.

Zuppa di Piselli Secchi e Patate ( split green pea and potato soup)

For 4 people.

  • 220 g split green peas, washed, and then soaked overnight.
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped in cubes.
  • 1.5 litres of fresh stock or made with a stock cube. ( you may need more )
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 Tbles extra virgin olive oil
  • 40 gr butter
  • 3 Tbles freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Soak the peas overnight. Drain and cook with the potatoes at a moderate boil in 700 ml of stock ( or enough to cover well). Cook until both are tender, then puree the mixture with their cooking liquid in a mouli and reserve. ( don’t be tempted to blend this soup- the beauty comes from the light texture derived from the mouli )
  2. Put the onion into a heavy based soup pot with the oil and butter and sauté over medium heat until soft and golden.
  3. Add the puree to the onions, then add the remaining stock and bring to a moderate boil. Lower heat, and check on liquid- you may need more, depending on how thick/thin you like your soup. When ready, stir in the grated cheese, taste for salt. Serve with more parmesan and crostini.

This soup keeps well in the refrigerator for several days, but will need thinning with more water on reheating. As you thin it, you may need to add a little more stock powder or salt.

Marcella Hazan’s split pea and potato soup
Make the crostini in the oven while the soup is cooking.







13 thoughts on “A Week of Pulses. Italian Split Green Pea and Potato Soup.”

  1. This morning I was reading David Lebovitz’s post about Marcella. Evidently she was quite a force to reckon with. Soup, good bread, and a chunk of cheese. It does not get more perfect than that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Must read that Lois. I love Marcella’s bossy style. she was responsible for my love of Italian food, and she sent me to university to learn the language, I ended up teaching Italian for 9 years, and translated a book. It’s all her fault. Yes, soup bread cheese and a little sangiovese.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Teaching Italian for 9 years?! That’s wonderful, Francesca. My dad’s side is Italian (grandmother barely spoke English, grandfather not a word), and I so wish I had paid attention and learned some of the language.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I never thought of that just making soup with the green split peas and potato…they are imo the heroes of pea and ham soup, and onion of course… is necessary to almost everything I make and eat. I bought a couple of extra bags of split peas. Tick. But like you have onky a small amount of grana pandano that I’m eking out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I used to love ham hocks back in the day… or ham bones…you could live off that soup. And, if in SA, you could float a pie in it, which is the only single authentic aussie dish, according to some. Yeah, stash that wedge. I’m sending my granddaughter into Brunswick next week on a grsna mission of mercy.


    1. Ah use it Jan. I get paranoid if I dont have 1/2 kilo on the fridge. There are many stashed big rounds in the wholesalers…but then the future supply chain…. italy… oh no….


  3. I love potato and split pea Francesca, but I haven’t tried with parmesan – one to do next with my 3kgs of split peas 🙂 and I also bought a big piece of Grano Padano recently while thinking sadly of future Italian supply chains….

    Liked by 1 person

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