Originally published in October 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Just in time for National Soup Swap, this make-ahead-and-freeze soup is vegan on its own, or you can add leftover shredded chicken or cooked sausage for an omnivore's delight.
Recently, I spilled the beans about my relationship to Miracle Whip. My friends were aghast, my cooking buddies appalled, my family amused. Now, hold on to your coffee mug, because I've got another shocking pantry revelation: I keep a bottle of barbecue sauce in my refrigerator at all times.
I'm not picky about the brand, as long as it's smoky and sweet. I buy whatever's on sale. I don't read the nutrition label too closely, either. If I did, I might find that the first ingredient listed is high fructose corn syrup. Also on the list: caramel, molasses, corn syrup and sugar. Yup. Five different sweeteners.
Don't get me wrong. I don't have a sweet tooth, and I don't use bottled barbecue sauce on meat or chicken. For that, I make sauce from a prized recipe that my friend Candy got several years ago from Gil Slater, who ran a BBQ operation out of a trailer across the road from a truck stop on Route 102 in Rhode Island. (Gil had built his own rig, and grew his own scotch bonnet peppers for his special sauce. He offered a limited menu: chicken, pork, and the best sweet potato fries anywhere.)
No, bottled barbecue sauce serves a different purpose entirely; it takes the place of ham hocks or smoked meat in my soup recipes. I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat pork, and there are some soups, especially legume-based soups, that really benefit from the smoky taste of ham or bacon.
Barbecue sauce has been one of my secret ingredients for years. It adds smoke and sweet, without heat or meat.
Meat-free split pea soup
Use gluten-free barbecue sauce for a gluten-free soup. Serves 6-8; can be doubled.
1 cup green or yellow split peas
3 cups vegetable broth or water, or a mix of the two
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1/4 cup smoky barbeque sauce (check ingredients for gluten-free)
1/4 tsp dill weed
Lots of kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Put all ingredients into a stockpot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for at least one hour until the beans "dissolve." You might need to add a bit of water if the peas are cooking too fast.
When the peas are soft, you can use an immersion blender or food processor to puree for an even smoother soup, but it's usually not necessary.
Serve hot. Or cool completely, and refrigerate or freeze.
More split pea and lentil soup variations:
Yellow split pea and sausage soup
Split pea, sausage and preserved lemon soup
One-of-everything lentil soup
Lentil noodle soup
Greek lentil soup with red pepper and feta
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Coconut split pea soup, from Gluten-Free Goddess Recipes
Yellow split-pea soup with sweet potatoes and kale, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Spicy yellow split pea soup with Italian sausage and green pepper, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Indian-style split pea soup, from Lisa's Kitchen
Split pea and asparagus soup with parmesan-garlic toast, from $5 Dinners
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