Makes 6 cups (6 servings)
No ham bones in this vegetarian version of the classic. This soup gets its special flavor and aroma from the addition of cumin and dry sherry. It always gets raves, even from carnivores.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups vegetable stock, divided
1 ½ cups dried split peas
1 carrot, cut into ¼-inch dice
¼ cup dry sherry
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Sour cream for garnish
Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin; stir constantly for about 30 seconds.
Stir in 6 cups of the vegetable stock and the split peas. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing the peas as you stir.
Add the remaining 2 cups vegetable stock, the carrot, sherry, bay leaf, salt, and nutmeg. Cover and cook over low heat until the split peas and carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
Garnish the servings with small dollops of sour cream.