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Two bowls of split pea soup. The bowl on the left has ditalini pasta and the bowl on the right is garnished with croutons.

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

Split pea soup is as comforting as it is delicious. Make it French topped with homemade Provence herb croutons or make it Italian with ditalini pasta. But make it tonight!

Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons or Ditalini Pasta! 

Split pea soup is a classic, hearty soup made for generations in the winter and spring, when fresh, green vegetables are scarce.  Peas can be dried after harvest and “split peas” will keep easily for 1 year or longer in the cupboard,  waiting to satisfy that yearning for a hearty soup until fresh peas become available in the springtime.

Since my family did not make split-pea soup when I was growing up, I researched a bit to discover that this soup is popular in both Italy and France. The split peas are cooked in essentially the same way, but the soups are finished differently.

In both versions, some type of ham product is commonly used to flavor the peas, although this can be left out to make a vegetarian soup. I’ve chosen pancetta, or Italian bacon, for the ham product in my soup. Chopped onions and carrots are a mainstay, as is the herb thyme.

In Italy, split pea soup is cooked until the peas fall apart by themselves in the soup, and the soup is left a little bit chunky.  The soup is then finished by adding in cooked Ditalini pasta or a potato cut into small cubes.  In France, the soup is pureed, and finished with a topping of canned peas or croutons.

I’ve included a method to make homemade croutons using herbs of Provence as the French garnish for my split-pea soup.  But I’m sure you’ll enjoy making these croutons for many more dishes once you realize how simple it is to make croutons yourself.

Whatever version you choose, this soup is sure to please your family! —Kathryn Occhipinti

Recipe is listed below.  Check out my  latest Instagram video from Conversationalitalilan.french and watch me make split pea soup and croutons if you like!

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Split pea soup with homemade croutons or Ditalini pasta for springtime! French and Italian finishes below. For the soup: 1 bag 26 oz. dried split peas soaked in water in measuring cup to make about 3-4 cups. Put in pot with 7 cups water 1/2tsp salt and 1/8 tsp baking soda (if you have “hard water”) Bring to the boil slowly, in about 45 min so peas can absorb water. Skim foam off. After hard boil reached, skim foam and add finely chopped carrot and inion that has been sautéed in 2 Tb butter and 1/4 cup chopped pancetta (bacon). Also add herbs: chopped fresh or dried parsley, pinch of thyme and small bay leaf. Simmer an additional 2 -2 1/2 hours. Remive bay leaf when done! Can reduce peas to puree while cooking to desired thickness for Italian version (leave a little chunky). Or puree in food processor for French version. Italian version: add Cooked Ditalini pasta and enjoy. French version add 2 Tb butter, top with canned peas to serve or homemade croutons. For the croutons: 1 loaf French bread, cubed,1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic, pinch salt, dried parsley flakes, dried herbs of Provence. Mix and bake 400. Viola! #osnap @niafitalianamerican @italianjourney @sons_of_italy @osia_su @chicagolanditalians #peasoup #splitpeasoup #springsouptime #springsoupforthesoul #springsoupforlunch #frenchsplitpeasoup #italiansplitpeawithham #italiansplitpeasoup #crôutons #homemadecroutons #homemadecroutonsrecipe #homemadecrouton #herbsofprovence #herbsofprovance #ditalinipasta #ditalinipastasoup #crouton #croutons

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Split Pea Soup
with Homemade Croutons
or
Ditalini Pasta 

Two bowls of split pea soup. The bowl on the left has ditalini pasta and the bowl on the right is garnished with croutons.
Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons and Ditalini Pasta

Ingredients
for the Soup:

1 bag (26 oz.) split peas, soaked in water to make 3-4 cups

2 Tb butter
1/4 cup pancetta or ham, diced into small cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped finely
1 carrot, peeled and chopped finely
Fresh sprig or 1 tsp of  dried parsley
Fresh sprig or 1/8 tsp of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Italian style: 1 cup ditalini pasta, cooked

Ingredients
for the Croutons
(French style):

1 loaf French bread, cubed
1/2 cup olive oil,
1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic (from jar)
pinch salt
dried parsley flakes
dried herbs of Provence.

Method

Put the 3-4 cups of soaked peas in large pot with 7 cups water.

Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp baking soda .(If you have “hard water” the baking soda will counteract the calcium salts in the hard water so the split peas can soften properly.*)

Bring the pot of water with split peas to the boil slowly, taking about 45 min. This will allow the peas to absorb the water properly and soften properly.* Skim foam off periodically as it comes to the surface.

While the split peas are coming to a boil, saute the finely chopped pancetta (or ham), onion and carrot in 2 Tb of butter and a pinch of salt until the vegetables soften. Do not brown.

After a rolling boil is reached, skim foam from the pot again and add the sauteed vegetables and ham.

Then add the herbs to taste. If fresh, the herbs should be added in a “bouquet garni,” wrapped in cheesecloth so they can be removed.  Dried herbs will soften and fall apart as the soup cooks. Suggested herbs: chopped fresh or dried parsley, sprig or pinch of dried thyme and  a small bay leaf.

Simmer an additional 2 -2 1/2 hours, until split peas fall apart and thicken the soup.

Remove bay leaf (and bouquet garni if used) when done!

Reduce peas to puree while cooking to desired thickness for Italian version (leave a little chunky). Or puree in food processor for French version.

Italian version: Cook 1/2 cup Ditalini pasta separately, add to soup and and enjoy.

French version: After pureeing, place back on the stove and add 2 Tb butter, blending into the soup as it melts. Top with canned peas to serve or homemade croutons.

For the  homemade croutons: 1 loaf French bread, cubed,1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 -1 tsp crushed garlic (add to olive oil and mix to coat evenly), pinch salt, dried parsley flakes, dried herbs of Provence. Mix, spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 400° until golden brown. Viola! Kathryn Occhipinti

Breadboard with French bread being cut into cubes
French bread cut for croutons
Croutons in a bowl with olive oil and jar of garlic in foreground
Croutons in bowl with olive oil and crushed garlic to add

 

 

 

 

Croutons ready to go into the oven.
Croutons spread out on a baking sheet, coated in olive oil, garlic and herbs and ready to go into the oven.
Croutons coated with olive oil, garlic and herbs ready to bake

*I learned these tips from the French cook book, La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange, first published in French in 1920, first translated into English as of 1995, and with a second edition in 2005.  As the forward states, “it is today recognized by many French home and restaurant cooks… as the most articulate and popular home cookbook available in bookstores, from the time of its first publication… in the late 1920s to these first years of the 20th century.” This cook book is filled with so many details about buying, prepping and cooking French food of every type that I am sure cooks of all levels will benefit from the knowledge imparted by Madame into the 21st century and beyond.

 


Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Recipe: Split Pea Soup with Homemade Croutons

High speed Italian trains

High-Speed Italian Trains Freccia and Italo for Travel in Italy

High-Speed Italian Trains Freccia and Italo for Travel in Italy

FollKathryn for learntravelitalian.comow Caterina in the
Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books!

The Conversational Italian for Travelers textbook begins each chapter with a dialogue from a story about the character Caterina, an American girl who travels to Italy to visit her relatives. As the story continues from one chapter to the next, we learn Italian, and about Italy, in an engaging way through Caterina’s experiences.

High-Speed Italian Trains Freccia and Italo for Travel in Italy

One of the first things Caterina must do after her plane lands in Italy is find her way on the Italian railway system. To listen to dialogues from Chapters 4 and 5 about Caterina’s encounters as she buys a ticket and boards a train in Italy, go to the interactive dialogues on our website at learntravelitalian.com/interactive.html.

For more images and links to the high-speed Italian train system, visit our Pinterest Site, Stella Lucente Italian.

The Cultural Note below, also from the textbook, describes the exciting new high-speed Italian trains of the Freccia and Italo railway systems that have streamlined travel between the major cities in Italy.
—Kathryn Occhipinti

 


Cultural Note: Freccia and Italo Railway Systems for Travel in Italy

The future of train travel is here in Italy today, under the old Trenitalia Ferrovie dello Stato railway system, to which has been added a new network traveled by a fleet of beautiful, high-speed Italian trains—the Freccia (arrow) trains. The high-speed Italian trains for the railway line Frecciarossa (red arrow) link the major cities of Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, Turin, and Venice and travel up to 175 miles per hour across the country. It is now possible to travel from Milan or Venice to Rome on these high-speed Italian trains in about 3 hours. This Italian network is linked to major European cities outside of Italy as well and can be an efficient way to extend travel plans to neighboring countries, with restaurant cars and sleeper cars available for longer journeys. These cars are also equipped with WiFi for a small fee. The Frecciargento (silver arrow) and Frecciabianca (white arrow) trains are part of this new family of high-speed Italian trains and link smaller cities and towns. For a slightly higher fee, they provide a more comfortable ride than the older local trains and make fewer stops. Ask about the availability of these high-speed Italian trains when purchasing a ticket at the station. Or go to the official Trenitalia site, www.trenitalia.com, and click on one of the three silver tabs in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage for the high-speed Italian Freccia train of your choice.

High speed Italian train Italo
Self-service machine to purchase tickets to ride on an Italo railway high-speed Italian train

Italo is a privately owned company that also offers high-speed Italian passenger train service. Italo offers a club membership for frequent travelers, with private waiting rooms at the train stations and special cars with reclining leather seats, personal TVs, WiFi, and meal service. Look for the bright red automatic ticket machines, or purchase tickets at the Italo ticket offices in the train station. For more information on the Italo family of high-speed Italian trains or to purchase tickets online, use the Italo website at www.italotreno.it.

Read all about this new high-speed Italian train network and learn about traveling throughout Italy on the different classes of trains offered by Trenitalia and Italo on the website The man in Seat 61 at www.seat61.com. Click on the link for Italy and search for “A beginner’s guide to train travel in Italy” to see pictures of each type of train and learn more about the accommodations that are offered.

All of the high-speed Italian trains require a reservation (prenotazione), and the ticket issued will have an assigned car (carrozza) and seat (posto) for each passenger. Look for the car number on the side of the train, or ask the conductor, who will come out of the office to the platform when the train enters the station before departure for the next stop. Tickets for the high-speed Italian trains, as well as local trains, can be purchased online in most cases, starting 60 days before departure, and in some cases, up to 90 days. These online tickets may be discounted up to 60% off the price paid at the train station, depending on how far in advance they are purchased. Beware, though—the timetables change in mid-June and mid-December each year, so be sure to check them again before departing if you have bought tickets in advance. An alternative site, all in English, is www.raileurope.com. And remember, along with your ticket, you will need a valid personal ID to travel between European cities. Or, if you choose ticketless travel (within Italy only), you will need the registration number.

Have fun visiting the Trenitalia and Italo websites!

 Adapted from Conversational Italian for Travelers, Chapter 4, “Cultural Note,” © 2012, Stella Lucente, LLC, by Kathryn Occhipinti. 

Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases
Conversational Italian for Travelers Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions) is YOUR traveling companion in Italy! All the Italian phrases you need to know to enjoy your trip to Italy are right here and fit right into your pocket or purse.

   Available on amazon.com and Learn Travel Italian.com

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

High-Speed Italian Trains Freccia and Italo for Travel in Italy