Split Pea Soup {recipe} – Finally, Splitting Up

Split Pea Soup with croutons and shredded ham

After justifying behaviors, after reconciling little differences, after earnest efforts to work things out, you just get to a certain point where the only mature solution is…divorce. *sigh*

Can I divorce my entire family?

They don’t know anything about it and really, if I were to go through with the whole thing without even telling them, they won’t even notice.

You see, in the last few years, by no conscious effort of my own, I have become virtually invisible in my family, a gradual process that initiated a few years ago when my father declared that “there is no hope for” me. Dad made the decree after the first of my two younger siblings had the first baby/child/grandchild of our family and he meant, of course, that there was no hope of marriage for me. I was too overripe to be plucked by a prince from the family tree, instead destined to plummet a dried, wrinkled sweatpants-clad fruit to the ground and rot through her thirties and beyond with eleven cats to which she is allergic and an internet connection.

It’s no one’s fault, really, though if I had to, I’d be inclined to blame my parents. Even with all the cruel and unusual, but so very real, traditions of an Immigrant-American family, there was one that my parents made the mistake of never instituting: the Birth Order Marriage rule (BOM).

BOM states that “children will be married in the order in which they are conceived.”

Had BOM been rule in The Delicious family, then as the first-born, I’d have to be first-married, even if my two younger sisters were in 10 year long relationships and were bursting at the seams of the wedding gowns that they’ve been designing in their imaginations since they were toddlers.

In an extreme singles situation like, oh, I don’t know, mine several years ago, my family could drop the BOM on me, directly pressuring me to expedite for the sake of my younger sisters.

Obviously, that didn’t happen. My sisters married years ago and you know what state I’m currently in.


Once my married younger sisters began reproduction — Dad actually uses words like “reproduction,” but that’s not surprising since he relates everything to either the military or the animal kingdom — there really was nothing left for my parents to use as leverage. Mine was a lost cause that faded into the background, and when my nieces and nephews, rather my parents’ omgrandchildren, screamed onto the scene, my family didn’t just give up hope for my getting married; they just sort of forgot about me entirely.

I am bitter about a lot of things, but all of that in the previous five paragraphs, oddly enough, was not the grounds for divorcing my family. They are all part of the backdrop for one brief, tragic scene within the comedy that was the Delicious Christmas Holiday two years ago that finally put me over the edge.

As I usually do right about the time that I did, I kicked off the usual Delicious Holiday Dinner deliberations by calling Mom. Or so I thought I was “kicking it off.” Little did I know that the rest of my family had failed to include me in dinner planning that had taken place several days before. It wasn’t a big deal, as I have said, to be forgotten in that way. It was, however, a big deal when Mom told me what the plan was.

Sister’s house (as usual). Early evening (no surprise). No cooking whatsoever because she had already bought an entire pre-cooked, all you can heat-n-eat, Holiday Ham dinner out of a box.

I was speechless.

On the outside.

On the inside, however, I was going through every stage of post traumatic stress and shock on silent, turbo speed while my Mom continued to explain with words like “so much easier,” “no clean up,” and, the one that haunts me even two years later…


We were going to microwave our holiday ham dinner for 12 people.

The dead silence on my end of the line must have been a hint to Mom that something was Not. O. K.

“But don’t worry Sarah. We’ll actually cook something!” They say people get divorced over toothpaste. They should also say families could get divorced over Green Bean Casserole.

At that point, it was so ridiculous I didn’t know if Ashton Kutcher was going to come crashing through my door with my Mom laughing, if I should laugh or cry, if I was really biologically related to these people who share my same last name. Even if I were adopted, after thirty-*cough*something*cough* years, don’t these people know me?

It wasn’t a joke.

On Christmas Day, we really did eat a fully cooked meal that we heated, for the most part, in the microwave oven.

Strangely enough, with four little huggy, kissy nieces and nephews crawling all over me, my tiny dog terrorizing Mom and my sisters in the kitchen, and indirectly listening to my Dad giving the lectures I’ve heard a hundred times before to his new victims students, my brothers-in-law, I didn’t even notice that the ham, potato salad, creamed corn, and other assorted side dishes actually came in three bags, not a box.

And two years later, during the cleanup after almost exactly the same Delicious Family Holiday Ham Dinner with all the Korean fixin’s, my Dad pointed to a tightly twist-tied crumpled plastic bag shoved into a corner on the kitchen countertop and asked if it was trash.

“No,” my Mom replied. “That’s the bone for Sarah. So she can make soup for her blog.”

I guess this soup is the only “split” we’ll be doing now.

Split Pea Soup

from the Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary edition, page 134

makes about 6 cups


small ham hock or ham bone
2 cups green split peas, rinsed and picked over
8 cups cold water
1 large carrot, diced
1 large celery rib, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4!)
1 bouquet garni (3-4 sprigs parley, 1/3 to ½ bat leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 leek white white part only, 2 cloves)
salt and black pepper to taste


Combine in a soup pot ham bone, 2 cups green split peas, and cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour.

Stir in diced carrots, diced celery, diced onions, minced garlic, and bouquet garni. Simmer until the ham bone (or ham hock) and peas are tender, about 1 hour more.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove from heat and remove the ham bone (or ham hock). Discard the bone, skin, and fat; dice the meat. Return it to the soup. For a thicker soup, simmer to the desired consistency. Stir to blend before serving.

Garnish with soup croutons. (I also garnished with shredded ham and chopped fresh parsley.)

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Donna December 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I’m so, so sorry.  Your soup looks delicious.


2 Sarah December 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm

donna: thank you!


3 Kevin Feighery December 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm

That soup looks so good I want to marry it!  I am going to try it on Saturday, a good pre-new years meal.

Your directions say “stir to blend”.  Did you really  just stir to blend it, or did you use a stick blender or the like?


4 Sarah December 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Kevin: I don’t own a stick blender :)

I was worried because I thought I was going to have to ladle soup into my food processor to puree it, since that’s the final consistency of Split Pea Soup, but the split peas sort of puree into themselves on their own while cooking! The only things that maintained their integrity enough to require blending were the carrots, but I kind of like their little pops of color in the final soup…!


5 Thisisntjasmine December 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm

This thanksgiving, my guy’s Grammy did the cooking. We were served pre-made turkey that was reheated in the microwave. For serious.

Alas, your soup looks divine. I’ll be making this soon. <3


6 Hannah@ bake5.wordpress.com December 29, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I’m sorry to hear your story. Yet happy with the recipe (:


7 Ruby33421 December 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I’m also an Asian immigrant, and my relationship with my Dad is like, hopeless. I never feel any warmth at my house during Christmas(uh, or anytime). But I just want to say it’s okay!(though I know it’s not) Your blog is wonderful, and by sharing these delicious dishes you help to make many families’ Christmas even more enjoyable! 
You should be proud!:)


8 jbolty December 30, 2011 at 9:35 am

I always add some frozen peas to my soup right as it’s about done. The color, texture and flavor are a nice addition to the creamy cooked peas.


9 Michelle December 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Yeah, it’s called being disowned. You mean you’re from an Asian immigrant family and you haven’t heard of this?

e.g. “If you get a tattoo, we’re disowning you”.


10 Diana Hossfeld December 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm

My dad once told me he prays for me to be “found.” Because even though the BOM theory would indicate that I’m just fine since I’m the youngest child and my eldest brother still isn’t married,  apparently I’m lost. Or maybe a lost cause?


11 dancerinmymind December 31, 2011 at 7:45 am

I want to first agree that this soup looks (and probably tastes) very delicious. My Dad (as we begin the descent into family topics) loves split pea soup and hence I have memories of him making it for me as a kids. 

Though I have yet to be forgotten by my family for any major holidays, I can relate to the pressure to get married and have grandbabies. I’m the oldest in my family, as well as my Dad’s extended family. I have to laugh at the frankness of his sisters and brothers for asking me straight up if I had finally found a boyfriend yet, as I sit there blinking uncomfortably. Why is it so important at 24 to have my lifelong mate picked out? Lets just say I’m not unhappy to not see them until next year.

Wishing you the best in 2012! And don’t let your crazy family get you down, because you’re not alone. :)


12 Becky January 13, 2012 at 9:56 am

That is exactly why we do Christmas at home, just us.  I could entertain you for hours on the bad meals at my in-laws, mostly microwaved.

My daughter’s favorite soup is split pea.  Sometimes I throw some barley in to give it some heft.


13 Robert September 17, 2014 at 2:25 am

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Robert Li, I’m writing on behalf of an NGO called Food for Good based in Hong Kong, we are currently creating more content on our site and one of your images would work perfectly for our content.

I would like to ask for the rights to publish this image on our website.


Alittle about ourselves:

we work with strategic partners, including non-governmental organisations, schools, corporations, community organisations, and other stakeholders to implement projects in relation to food waste reduction and redistribution of edible food.

Food For Good provides relevant information on food waste management and food waste recycling; it advocates, educates and promotes a greener eating habit and co-ordinates and facilitates the redistribution of edible surplus food.

I look foward to hearing from you.

Best Regards

Robert Li


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