Habitant Split Pea Soup is hands down my ALL-TIME favorite soup! When I was a child I would ask my babysitter for the canned version of this soup for lunch every single day. This hearty and comforting soup was lugged around in my thermos hundred of times over the years and I never tired of it.
Did you know that French settlers who farmed the land in rural Québec along the St Lawrence River were once known as Habitants? This soup was one of their staples- a creamy stew of yellow split peas and crispy bits of pork. Serve this soup in the fall and winter when you’re needing some cozy comfort food. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream to make it extra creamy and indulgent!
P.S. This soup tastes even better the next day!
Traditional Québecoise style split pea soup calls for a ham hock but I haven’t used it in this recipe for a decade. I feel like the salted pork is enough meat for this recipe and lends sufficient flavor. If you’re wanting to make this traditional recipe by the book, add a ham hock to your grocery list.
Habitant Split Pea Soup
- 1 large Dutch oven
- 1 medium non-stick skillet
- 1 immersion blender may use a small blender or food processor
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 soup ladle
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or rendered pork fat
- 2 cups onion diced
- 2 cups carrots diced
- 1 cup celery diced
- 2 cups dried yellow split peas
- 6 cups beef stock
- 2 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 ounces salted pork whole piece
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme may sub ¾ tsp dried
- 1 tsp kosher salt more to taste
- ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup crème fraîche may sub sour cream
- Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil or rendered pork fat to the pot; swirl to coat.
- Add onion, carrot and celery; sauté for 6 minutes. Stir in yellow split peas; sauté 1 minute.
- Add beef broth, water, bay leaves and salted pork; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until split peas are tender, skimming the surface as necessary.
- Remove and discard bay leaves. Remove salted pork and 2 cups of split pea mixture; let stand for 10 minutes to cool down.
- Purée 3-4 cups of the pea mixture, and return to pot, stirring to thicken slightly. This adds a really nice element of creaminess to the soup. If you have an immersion blender, feel free to skip this step and eyeball it (that's what I do, less dishes).
- Dice the salted pork. Heat a non stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced salted pork to the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until crispy and browned, stirring frequently.
- Return crispy salted pork to the pot, stirring to incorporate into the soup. As an alternative, you can top each bowl with a spoonful of crispy pork, but I prefer it mixed in the soup.
- Taste; season as necessary with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Top each bowl with a tbsp of crème fraîche or sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves (optional).