By Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Helene Siegel, Cesare Casella, Jack Bishop, Tom Lacalamita, Heather Dismore, Martin Yan, Dede Wilson, Joan H. Moravek, Kristin Eddy

Split pea soup is comfort food. This humble soup is so satisfying and nourishing that you can enjoy it best on a cold winter’s night with a loaf of chewy country white or rye bread, a perfectly ripened pear, and a handful of walnuts. Split peas are readily available at the supermarket in the section where dried beans and legumes are sold.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/DebbiSmirnoff]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/DebbiSmirnoff

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 small turnip, peeled and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 cup split peas

1 small ham bone (optional)

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 cup dry white wine

5 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

1⁄2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

    Add the onion, carrot, celery, turnip, and garlic. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

  2. Add the split peas, ham bone (if desired), bay leaf, marjoram, wine, and water and bring to a boil.

    Cover and simmer until the peas are soft and falling apart. This can take anywhere from as little as 60 minutes up to 2 hours, depending on the split peas.

  3. 3Remove and discard the ham bone and bay leaf. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir in the crème fraîche before serving.

Crème fraîche is a fermented cream similar to sour cream — but at the same time very different. It is used in France to smooth out soups and sauces and is served drizzled over fresh fruit sprinkled with sugar.

Homemade crème fraîche is easy to make. In a mixing bowl or 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk together 2 cups heavy cream and 3 tablespoons cultured buttermilk. Cover with a clean dish towel and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, or until the mixture thickens. Pour into a clean jar and refrigerate. Use within 10 days.