When the temperature drops, it's time to get out your pots and pans for hearty soups. Split pea soup does the double duty of warming you up while it fills you up. It's economical and doesn't take much cooking experience. Add pork to the soup to make it satisfying enough to serve as the entrée. Heat up some corn bread, biscuits or crunchy bread, and dinner is done.
Put the peas in a bowl and pick over them to remove any debris or small pebbles. Rinse and set aside.
Cut the pork into chunks all the same size. The smaller the chunks, the more flavor is released into the split peas. Try 1/4-inch, 1/2-inch or 1-inch cubes.
Place a large pan on the stove. Turn the heat to medium high. Coat the bottom of the pan with your choice of cooking oil. Canola, sunflower or corn oil all work well. When the oil is hot -- it shimmers when it's ready -- add the pork chunks. Do not crowd the pork. Brown on all sides.
Add vegetables of your choice such as leeks, shallots, carrots or celery. Add four times as much liquid as you have split peas. Your choices could include plain water, vegetable or chicken broth. For example, if you use 1 cup of dried split peas, use 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
Toss in some seasonings such as bay leaf, thyme, black pepper or garlic.
Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the pork chunks. The split peas are cooked in 60 minutes.
Remove some of the soup, up to half. Fish out the pork and put it back in the pot. Puree the soup you removed in a food processor and return to the pot. Pureed vegetables and split peas act as a thickener. Bring back to a boil. Turn off the heat. Let the soup sit for 15 minutes before serving.