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Minnesota Pea Soup

January 19, 2009

What makes pea soup Minnesotan, you ask?  The wild rice of course!  Certain species of wild rice are native to the Great Lakes regions and Native Americans used to harvest it in their canoes.  How Minnesotan is that?  This soup is one that I had often during my childhood and have come to appreciate more as I’ve grown older.  It’s very warming and filling, and a big batch will last a long time.  The key is chewy wild rice and smoked ham hocks, which give a little meat and a lot of smoky flavor to the soup.  The recipe below is a single batch and will serve 4-6.  It can be easily doubled to make a huge pot full.

You can easily make this vegetarian by leaving out the ham hock and substituting vegetable stock for the water.


1 lb bag (16 oz) green split peas, sorted and rinsed well

1 T olive oil

1 small onion, cut into small dice

2 medium carrots, cut into small dice

1 stalk celery, cut into small dice

1 bay leaf

1 meaty ham hock

1/3 c wild rice, sorted and rinsed


In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium low heat and saute onion, carrots and celery for 3-4 minutes, just until they begin to release some of thier juices.  Add bay leaf, ham hock and peas to pot.  Add enough cold water to cover the peas by 2 inches.  Cover pot, raise heat to medium and bring to a gentle simmer.  Turn heat to low and barely simmer the soup for 45 minutes, adding more water as needed to keep the mixture soupy.  After about 45 minutes, the peas should be starting to break apart when you stir the soup (if not, cook longer).  Add wild rice and more water if necessary.  Cover and cook for 30 more minutes or until the rice has split open and is chewy, but tender.  Peas should be mostly broken apart with just a little texture.  Remove ham hock and cut meat from it when its cool enough to handle.  Add meat back into the pot and season soup with salt and pepper.

This reheats well- you’ll need to add some water each time you reheat to get to the right soupy consistency.

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