Lentils and split peas are great additions to many soups. One mistake that many people make is not cooking the lentils and split peas properly before adding them to their recipes. This can lead to hard or even crunchy items in your soup and, once they're mixed in, you really can't remove them. Preparation is the key to cooking lentils and split peas to include in your recipes.
Rinse lentils and split peas under running water to remove dirt, shriveled and dark colored pieces.
Place rinsed lentils and split peas in a stock pot filled about halfway with water. Add 2 tsp. of salt and cover.
Place stock pot on the stove over low heat for approximately one hour. Because split peas and lentils are dried and hard, this is considered a soaking phase, not really a cooking phase. The salt and water will be absorbed by the lentils and peas causing them to soften and swell.
Remove from heat and allow lentils and split peas to sit covered for another hour. After this second hour, you can add the lentils or split peas to soups or recipes that will be cooked slowly for at least an hour. If you plan to serve the lentils or split peas alone or in a quick cooked recipe, you will need to add more water and any seasonings you want to add and cook them at a rolling boil for at least 45 minutes.
Seasonings that go well with lentils and split peas include onion, garlic, cumin and cilantro.