As early as I can remember, split pea soup was just about the most revolting foodstuff imaginable. My dad loved it though, from the can, and I think my mom couldn’t stand the smell, and so we too couldn’t stand the smell. Or the olive green color. Or the chunkiness that suggested vomit. Growing up I had a long standing aversion to green foods, so this clearly fell into that category. I also didn’t like peas, thus green + mashed + peas was like a triple threat of disgustation.
Thankfully I started getting over my food phobias when I began cooking for myself and discovering what was in the foods I feared. And I started to appreciate sweet peas, english peas, petits pois, etc. when they were combined sparingly with other dishes, especially rice.
So I was actually excited when on the way down I-5 towards Death Valley, Stephanie and I randomly chose an exit for food, and we happened upon Pea Soup Andersen’s, a restaurant dedicated to the lowly split pea soup. We’d actually tried to eat there once before, on the way back from Pinnacles National Park, but they were closed. Not this time!
We both got pea soup in a bread bowl—the most impressive bread bowl I’ve ever experienced. They cut off the top, buttered both open sides and toasted them on a skillet, before scooping out the bowl and adding the soup. The soup itself was good, a completely smooth puree, not chunky like I was expecting, and it came with a myriad of toppings in little plastic containers: ham, real bacon bits, scallions, cheese, and croutons. Hopefully, I’ll have occasion to take my dad there someday. Until then: