How To Turn Split Pea Soup Into A Casserole

Photo: Claire Lower

Hello, and welcome back to Will It Casserole?, the column where I take your delicious concepts and re-imagine them as casserole creations. It’s been a while since we’ve casseroled together, and this split pea soup situation is truly a return to form.

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Making soups into casseroles is actually quite simple: you just get rid of some of the liquid and—boom—you have a filling. I went with the split pea classics, supplementing my peas with ham, carrots, and a lot of onion and garlic.

For the topping, I was tempted to go with bread (I love bread), but changed courses at the last moment, settling on a mashed potato topping, giving this thing major shepherd’s pie vibes. At the suggestion of a clever commenter, I finished the dish with crispy fried onions, which I was excited about, because I love those things. To make it yourself, you will need:

  • 2 medium white onions diced

  • 2 medium carrots, diced

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup white wine or dry vermouth

  • 3-4 cups water

  • 1 cup dry green split peas

  • 1 ham bone or ham hock

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 cups of diced ham

  • 2 large yellow potatoes

  • 1 stick of butter

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • Crispy fried onions for topping

  • Salt and pepper

Dice your onion and carrots, season them with at least a teaspoon of salt, and cook in olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pot or Dutch oven until the carrots are soft and the onion is just starting to caramelize (about half an hour). Add the garlic, and cook until it’s golden and fragrant.

Remove the vegetables and set them aside in a bowl. Deglaze the pot with wine or vermouth, and let it reduce by half. Add three cups of water to the pan, along with the peas, ham hock, bay leaf, and a teaspoon of salt. Let cook until the split peas are falling apart and almost dry, adding more water as needed to get them there (about 45 minutes).

Photo: Claire Lower

In the meantime, make the potatoes however you like to make mashed potatoes. I used this Instant Pot recipe, but omitted the garlic, and it worked out well. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until they can be easily mashed with a fork (about 25 minutes), then drain them and return to the hot pot. Stir them around to drive off excess water, then add the butter and milk, and stir and mash with a big wooden spoon or potato masher. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

In between all the mashing and simmering, preheat your oven to 190C. Once the peas are falling-apart soft, and almost all of the water has been driven off, remove the ham bone (or hock) and bay leaf, and mix the peas with the carrots, onion, and ham. Pour it into a greased cast iron pan, then spread about two cups of mashed potatoes on top of the split pea mixture.

Cook, uncovered, until the mashed spuds start to get a little colour on them, then top with a handful of crispy fried onions, and broil for just a few minutes, until the onions are golden. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream.


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