There are as many variations of pea soup as there are colors in a painter’s palette. This isn’t your garden-variety pea soup. The fresh baby spinach leaves and fennel, along with a classic split pea soup base, will be most pleasing to your palate.
When fresh peas are not available, or when you want to enjoy a starchier, hardier flavored legume, dried peas are a perfect choice. Dried peas are available any time of the year and they make a wonderfully hardy and nutritious soup. It is a nice culinary change of pace as the seasons change from winter to spring.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped fennel bulb (about 2 small bulbs)
1 large onion (chopped)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 cup dry white wine (divided)
1 pound dried green split peas
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
5 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add fennel and onion, and sauté 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook for an additional 30 seconds over medium heat.
Reduce heat to simmer and add ½ cup wine. Simmer 2 minutes. Add split peas, fennel seeds, thyme, bay leaf, and 7 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 50 minutes (stirring occasionally).
Add remaining ½ cup wine and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until split peas are tender. Stir in spinach, and cook 2 minutes more. Remove bay leaf and purée soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender if you have one) until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with fresh bread rolls hot from the oven.