Give Peas A Chance

2014-03-15 — 14 Comments
Art by Ann Gates Fiser

Art by Ann Gates Fiser

Yes I really am that cheesy. I enjoy using this corny play on words from John Lennon’s incredible anthem for peace. It’s a song I have cherished all my forty-some years, and was especially delighted to hear one of my favourite bands, YES, put the refrain in their awesome song ‘Your Move’. 

So I think it’s a perfect expression to help elevate those beautiful bright green peas on your plate!

Art by Sharon Foster

Art by Sharon Foster

Since these easy-to-grow plants are not in season yet, I’m singing the praises of dried peas which have a long shelf life, as well as trusty organic peas from the freezer. They are a vegetable that take to the freezing process really well. Plus, they’re green and right now I’m celebrating everything green, like this delightful little gem of goodness!

Some Info on the Nutritional Benefits of Peas

split-peasWe don’t usually think about green peas as an exotic food in terms of nutrient composition but we should. Because of their sweet taste and starchy texture, we know that green peas must contain some sugar and starch (and they do). But they also contain a unique assortment of health-protective phytonutrients. One of these phytonutrients, a polyphenol called coumestrol, has recently come to the forefront of research with respect to stomach cancer protection.
A Mexico City-based study has shown that daily consumption of green peas along with other legumes lowers risk of stomach cancer (gastric cancer), especially when daily coumestrol intake from these legumes is approximately 2 milligrams or higher. Since one cup of green peas contains at least 10 milligrams of coumestrol, it’s not difficult for us to obtain this remarkable health benefit. (source)

Dried peas need to be washed and any discoloured peas or little stones discarded. Split peas don’t need to be soaked but doing so helps speed up the cooking time, but if adding to a soup they don’t need soaking. Simply wash, add to the rest of the ingredients, and cook.

Dr. Andrew Weil on health benefits and how to cook them:



There are few of us who have not found comfort in a steaming bowl of split pea soup at one time or another. Split peas are the dried, peeled, and most often split spherical seeds of the common pea plant, Pisum sativum. They can be purchased whole and un-split as well, though these take longer to cook.

Peas are thought to have originated somewhere between the Middle East and Central Asia; and, until the 16th century, when more tender varieties were able to be cultivated, they were almost exclusively consumed by humans in their dried form.

Just one cup of cooked split peas provides a full 65 percent of the Daily Value for fiber, making them, like all legumes, highly beneficial in blood sugar management and cholesterol control. Dried peas are also a good source of B vitamins (folate and thiamin) and various minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

Cooking time: Split peas, 30-60 minutes; whole peas, 60-90 minutes
Liquid per cup of legume: Split peas, 4 cups; whole peas, 6 cups
How to cook dried peas: While dried split peas do not need to be soaked, dried whole peas should be soaked overnight prior to cooking.
For split peas, combine in a pot with fresh, cold water for cooking. Place on stove and bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilting the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for up to 60 minutes, or until mushy.
For whole peas, drain soaking water and replace with fresh, cold water for cooking. Place on stove and bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilting lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for up to 90 minutes, or until tender. (source)

Here is my all-time favorite recipe for split-pea soup WITH fresh (frozen) peas added at the end. I often adapt this recipe by replacing the bacon (gasp! I know) with 1-cup of leftover ham that’s been diced, labeled, frozen and ready for soup. This recipe is superbly delicious, and it freezes beautifully. Warm thanks to one of my TV and cookbook teachers, Chef Michael Smith from PEI.

Speedy Split Pea Soup With Bacon (or ham)

Art by Mary-Anna Fricano Welch

Art by
Mary-Anna Fricano Welch

Makes 6 generous servings (or lots to freeze) and is ready in about an hour.

1 package bacon, chopped (or 1-2 cups diced cooked ham)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, washed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled sliced thinly
2 cups dried split peas
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper
2 cups of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of any vinegar

Place bacon in a large soup pot over a medium high heat. When the bacon is brown and crispy drain away the fat, leaving about 2 Tbsp in the pot (alternately, first cook veg in a bit of EVOO and add thawed cooked ham when adding dried peas, stock and seasonings). Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot and sauté for a few minutes. Add the dried peas, stock, bay leaves, rosemary and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until the soup is thick and the peas are completely soft. Stir in frozen peas and stir to heat through. Stir in the vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. (recipe source) Gina’s Note: The bright pop of flavor from the fresh/frozen green peas adds a real freshness and depth to this dish, and the vinegar (I use red wine vinegar) simply highlights all the flavours already there. You won’t actually taste vinegar, it’s simply doing its magic of heightening flavors.


14 responses to Give Peas A Chance


    I love peas… and peace. Raw peas are just so wonderful, it is strange that children usually don’t like it. My sons still don’t , shame.


      Yes that is odd isn’t it? They usually love picking them though! In my childhood (well and to this day) I loved the taste of raw peas, and even chewing the pod. Sweet and yummy! Thanks Ute. Cheers, Gina


    Such a fun post! Love it – peas and peace. 🙂


    I’ve always wanted to use that phrase, but never had the opportunity to do so! Love the fact that you’ve incorporated it into a ‘meaty’ (!) post.
    I enjoyed rocking out to the ‘bedtime’ tune while reading!


    Love your play on words, Gina. I love peas but only one of my son’s likes them. This winter I had a pot of split pea soup on (vegetarian) and my grandson who won’t eat most fruits or vegetables decided he wanted to try it. He loved it, and now asks when I am making it next. He even eats the potatoes, carrots and onions I put in mine….foods he wouldn’t eat before.


      Oooo… I love this comment. Soup, stew and spaghetti sauce are wonderful foils for tucking in all kinds of veggies! My hubby is a big meat-o-saurus and that I can create even one meatless meal a week is a great start! But he often doesn’t realize there’s shredded or finely diced carrots, onions, bell peppers, and celery tucked into pasta sauce, cottage pie, and other recipes to help me get his (reluctant) veggie consumption up. So glad your grandson discovered the tasty joy (and veg) to be found in your pea soup!!


        Gina, men and their meat crack me up.Good job hiding the veggies on your husband. 🙂 I think my grandson has turned a corner. He has decided that if a food smells good when being prepared it must mean it also tastes good which has him experimenting with more foods. The latest was lima beans which shocked his parents when he told them he liked them after trying them here. 🙂


          😀 Yes it cracks me up too! There was a commercial I saw about helping find recipes to ‘feed your fussy 5-year-old’ and I snorted, ‘Try a fussy 55-year-old!’ 😉 I’m delighted to read that your grandson is broadening his culinary horizons with the cooking finesse of his talented Grandmother in the kitchen! Way to go.


            Ha! Cooking Finesse is not something I do any longer. I eat very simply and was only making a bowl of plain lima beans for my meal. I’m seeing that the children are willing to try the simple whole foods they see me eating regularly.


    I find your piece on peace…..appeasing.
    On a very serious note, there is nothing more vital than, establishing a personal peace, and sharing.
    I applaud you.


    thanks for sharing a link and passing along this easy recipe 🙂

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:


    […] I haven’t had split pea soup since my mother made it while we lived in Quebec – have to give this a try – courtesy of  P.E.A.C.E […]


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