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splitpea soup finished 001Each morning, many small “restaurants-’round-the-corner” in Vienna announce the day’s Lunch Menu Special on a blackboard placed before the establishment’s door.  Usually the Menu will be comprised of three courses…and a bowl of Erbsensuppe might easily be the first course.  It is a good one…especially when accompanied by a slice or two of fresh bread…and also…on occasion…a glass of dark beer on tap.  This is Viennese restaurant dining of the simple sort at its best.

To replicate this sort of dining experience at home with Erbsensuppe is an easy matter…especially with this recipe which requires neither the usual ham hock nor ham bone, replacing the one or the other with finely ground good quality ham. This version is based on one by Sheila Hibben, the NewYorker‘s first food columnist.  (Her cookbook, The National Cookbook, a kitchen Americana is here online in the Hathi Digital Trust Library.)

splitpea soup finished 024Green Split Pea Soup ~ Erbsensuppe (for 10 first-course servings….Extra soup freezes well if this amount is made for a smaller number of people.  Large bowls of it make an excellent supper of simple lunch.)

Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.

Timing Note:  It is preferable to soak the split peas for a few hours before putting the soup together, but it isn’t essential.

split pea soup ing 006Ingredients:

  • a 16-ounce (454 gram) package of Green Spit Pease
  • 1 Tablespoon of Butter
  • 1 large-ish Onion, peeled and cut in large pieces
  • 1 big-ish Carrot, peeled and cut in large pieces
  • 1 stalk of Celery, cut in large pieces
  • 3 ounces (about 85 grams) of Prosciutto…both fat and lean
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 pints of Cold Water (1 and 1/2 liters)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • an optional garnish:  short branches of fresh Tarragon…one for each bowl of soup


  • a Food Processor fitted with the Chopping Blade
  • a large Kettle with a Lid
  • a large Bowl

1.  If time permits, put the peas in the kettle, cover them with water and soak them for several hours.  Just before making the soup, drain them and set them aside.

2.  Place the onion, carrot, and celery in the processor and chop them fine.

3.  Melt the butter in the kettle over medium heat.  Add the chopped vegetables and cook them, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color around the edges.

4.  As the vegetables cook, place the ham in the processor and grind it fine as well.

5.  When the vegetables begin to color, add the ground ham and cook it with the vegetables, stirring, for a minute.

6.  Add the split peas, bay leaf and water.  Bring the soup to a boil, cover it with the pot lid, then adjust the flame to low so that the soup simmers slowly and the peas become tender without risk of burning on the bottom of the kettle.

7.  When the peas are very tender, purée the soup in batches, transferring each batch to a large bowl.  When all the soup has been processed, pour it back into the kettle, taste and season with salt and pepper.  This is meant to be a thick soup, but if, after the soup has been puréed, it is too thick for your taste, add a little water.  A branch of fresh tarragon makes a pretty garnish for each bowl of soup.

splitpea soup finished 003A Note:  Green Split Pea Soup ~ Erbsensuppe is the First Course in the Dinner Menu: Frolicking Wednesday ~ a Bistro cum  Vendéglő Evening at Home.  Larger bowls of this soup make an excellent supper or simple lunch.

splitpea soup finished 027An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2013