Italian split pea soup recipe

Zuppa di piselli secchi con lattuga, or split pea soup with lettuce, is a delicious Italian dish

Split peas don’t normally need pre-soaking, but check the packet instructions.

For the vegetable broth
1 onion, peeled
1 courgette
1 carrot
1 celery stalk with leaves
1 leek
1 potato, peeled
2 cherry tomatoes
A handful of parsley, including stalks
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
For the pea soup
1 onion, peeled
300g/10½oz dried split peas
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
50g/1¾oz butter
1 small onion, sliced
1 celery heart, sliced
85g/3oz pancetta, cubed
2 potatoes, cut into chunks
1 litre/1¾ pints hot vegetable broth (recipe below)
500ml/18fl oz hot water
250g/9oz lettuce
225ml/8fl oz milk
2 egg yolks, beaten
Grated Parmesan, to serve

Put all the ingredients for the broth in a large saucepan, add 1.5 litres/2½ pints water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 1¼ hours. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
Remove from the heat and strain the broth through a fine sieve, pressing down on the vegetables with the back of a spoon.
Meanwhile, start making the soup. Rinse the split peas in cold water, discarding any small stones or other impurities; set aside.
Heat the olive oil and half of the butter in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Add the onion, celery and pancetta and sweat for five minutes, until softened.
Stir in the potatoes and split peas, add the broth and hot water, cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 1½ hours, stirring from time to time to prevent the peas from sticking.
About 15 minutes before the end of cooking time, put the lettuce leaves in a pan of boiling water and simmer for six minutes. Drain, squeezing out excess water, and leave to cool, then slice thinly lengthways. Set aside.
Melt the remaining butter and transfer to a bowl with the milk and egg yolks, whisking well. Remove the pea soup from the heat, stir in the milk mixture and serve sprinkled with the sliced lettuce and Parmesan.