Old-Fashioned Split Pea Soup

Split peas are rich in plant protein and fiber. And when prepared in a slow cooker, they melt deliciously into a puree, so there’s no need to get out a blender to finish the soup. For a smoky finish, top each serving with a sprinkling of smoked Gruyère or Gouda cheese.

1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups dried green split peas (8 oz.)
8 oz. ham steak, diced (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium Yukon gold potato, peeled, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or winter savory or 1 teaspoon dried
Dash cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (32-oz.) carton no-salt-added chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup whole wheat croutons*
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or parsley

1. Layer onion, carrots, celery, garlic, split peas, ham, potato, thyme, cayenne pepper and bay leaf in 5- to 6-quart slow cooker; pour in broth.

2. Cook, covered, on high 4 to 6 hours or on low 8 to 12 hours, or until split peas are tender and form a puree when soup is stirred. Discard bay leaf. Stir in lemon juice, butter and pepper. Serve garnished with croutons and chives.

5 (1 1/3-cup) servings

PER SERVING: 345 calories, 8.5 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 24 g protein, 45.5 g carbohydrate, 25 mg cholesterol, 720 mg sodium, 15 g fiber

TIP *To make croutons, cut 2 slices whole wheat artisan bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Bake on small rimmed baking sheet at 350ºF. 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp, stirring occasionally. Makes 1 cup.

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