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Leek and Split Pea Soup with Pistou

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This homemade Leek and Split Pea Soup is delicious but the pistou elevates it to awesomeness. I make this soup every winter and we love the flavours. I don’t really know where the recipe originated but the yellowed newspaper cut out has writing on it and I’ve been making it the same way for many years. Since 2016 is the International Year of Pulses I chose this recipe to highlight the use of pulses and legumes.

Now you may be asking “what are pulses and legumes?” so here is my quick overview.

Pulses are in the legume family and refer to the dried seed. Dried peas (like split peas), edible beans, lentils and chick peas are common pulses. So next time you are eating hummus you can casually ask your friends…Did you know 2016 is the year of the Pulses?…then tell them you always include pulses in your healthy diet.

Legumes refer to plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod. Fresh beans, including soy beans, peas and peanuts are all legumes. Alfalfa and clover are also legumes.

The pulse in this Leek and Split Pea Soup is split peas and the legume is fresh green beans.

Pistou for Leek and Split Pea Soup

Pistou is a French sauce similar to pesto but without the nuts. Not all recipes contain tomato but mine does. The pistou is to be dolloped right into the soup as you serve it. This allows the diner to swirl the cold sauce into the hot soup, watch it melt and anticipate the flavours as the aroma wafts up in front of them.

In my real world this is an everyday soup. I simply add all the pistou to the pot just before serving. I like to serve it for dinner with a nice salad and hot buttermilk biscuits. Then I freeze some for another dinner and take some in my lunch. It might be even more fabulous with fresh basil but I probably won’t try that. So many recipes…so little time.

Cookware for Making Soup

Cookware is an investment. You don’t need the most expensive set of pots but there is a wide variety of affordable cookware available and many items you purchase will last for decades. Notice what you like and choose wisely when you buy.

For the everyday home cook like me the largest pot in a typical set of pots is usually perfect for making soup. Although recipes sometimes say a Dutch oven or a soup pot they probably don’t really mean that. A modern Dutch oven is like the gorgeous Le Creuset enamelled cast iron pot. They are heavy and expensive but will last for a lifetime of cooking. For a fraction of the cost you can buy a lesser quality enamelled cast iron Dutch oven and although I’m not sure, I think it would last at least half a lifetime.

Some recipes will call for a soup pot, also called a stockpot. Technically this is an extra large, bigger than what comes with a set of pots. They are ideal for an annual jam or salsa-making party, or special events like a lobster boil. If you cook for large groups you should own one. Many people would never really need one because to make an everyday soup recipe, the largest pot in a typical set of pots is perfect.

If you tried this soup please let me know in the comments below if you liked it and what your favourite pulse or legume recipes are.


3 leeks
8 oz Italian sausage
1 cup chopped carrot
1½ cups, thinly sliced potatoes
4 cups GF chicken broth
2 cups water
½ cup split peas, rinsed
8 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1” pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
¾ cup parmesan cheese
4 tsp dried parsley
1½ Tbsp dried basil
1/3 cup olive oil


Cut root and green top off leeks. Cut lengthwise and rinse under water to remove dirt. Slice thinly.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Cook sausage turning, until browned on all sides. Remove sausage and cut in half lengthwise, then slice to desired thickness. Return sausage to the pot and add leeks and carrots. Cook stirring for 5 minutes until leeks are limp.
Add potato, chicken stock, water and split peas. Simmer covered until split peas are soft, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile make the PISTOU by mixing all sauce ingredients together. Set aside.
Add green beans to soup, simmer covered for 10 minutes until beans are cooked.
Mix all the pistou into the soup, stir until combined and serve. Alternately, top each bowl of soup with a generous dollop of pistou and serve.


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