A big bowl of substantial soup is the perfect antidote to cold weather and busy schedules. Whether it’s a weeknight family meal or an informal get-together, I pull out my tried-and-true soup and bread recipes and relax. —Trisha Kruse, Eagle, Idaho
To me, this spicy pea soup is total comfort food. I cook it low and slow all day, and it fills the house with a yummy aroma. It's so good with a nice, crispy baguette. —Chelsea Tichenor, Huntington Beach, California
Many split pea soups use ham and bacon for good, smoky flavor. Taking it one amazing step farther-add crabmeat. Freeze this one without toppings (freeze the cooked bacon separately), then reheat soup in a saucepan. Feel free to add more chicken stock or broth when reheating if you need it. Sprinkle bacon and fresh crab on top of bowls of hot soup. Stephen Exel, Des Moines, Illinois
I like to bake a ham just so I can use the leftover bone to make my split pea soup. After moving to New Mexico a few years ago, I discovered folks here put peppers or chilies in almost everything. So I decided to add some to this soup.
I've been making this soup for years. After every holiday where ham is served, the hostess hands me the ham bone and a bag of peas when I leave. I love it with a slice of crusty fresh bread. —Susan Simons, Eatonville, Washington
For a different spin on traditional split pea soup, try this recipe. The flavor is peppery rather than smoky, and the corned beef is an unexpected, tasty change of pace. —Barbara Link, Alta Loma, California
This slow-cooker soup is my secret weapon on busy days. It’s delicious served with oyster crackers tossed in a bit of melted butter and herbs, and then lightly toasted in the oven. —Whitney Jensen, Spring Lake, Michigan
Even the pickiest pea soup lover will request this time and again. Thick and well-seasoned, it packs a nutritional punch, plus plenty of fiber and protein. It's wonderful with a slice of crusty French bread. —Michele Doucette, Stephenville, Newfoundland
Field peas that have been dried (split peas) have been a staple soup ingredient for country cooks for years. One super recipe is Wisconsin Split Pea Soup. The recipe was sent in by field editor Linda Rock (left) of Stratford.
"Marjoram, garlic, potatoes and carrots blend nicely with peas in this hearty and economical soup," Linda confirms.
"I also plant peas in my garden each year," she says. "They grow so well here that I pick enough to freeze and enjoy all winter."
Meet the Cook: When my husband and I eat out and enjoy a dish, I go home and try to duplicate it. That's how I came up with this recipe. While it's good at any time, we like it full and hearty over the winter. Our three children are grown. Now, we keep busy watching their children - our six grandchildren - grow.
-Donna Mae Young, Menomonie, Wisconsin