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I am trying to make split pea soup. The first time I did it the peas softened just fine but the soup was scorched. I am trying again but at a lower heat, and the peas are refusing to soften.

Ingredients are 1 bag each of split peas, frozen carrots, and frozen onions, plus a small amount of Spike seasoning.

How can I soften the peas without scorching the soup? Is a slow cooker the best option?

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The reason your split peas are hard is that you added salt or stock to the water before they finished cooking. From your initial post, you say you've added something called "Spike seasoning". I'm guessing that's the culprit. It's probably got salt in it.

You have to cook split peas in just water for at least an hour, then stir to break them down and add any vegetables to flavor the soup. Only after another 30 minutes or so should you add salt to taste.

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    Thank you!!!! That is probably the reason. Salt increases the osmolality of the soup, so water won't be pulled into the peas by osmosis.
    – Demi
    Nov 6 '19 at 18:56
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Starting with more water than you think you need, keeping the lid on for a bit and then stirring a lot while it reduces to the desired consistency should be all you need to do. Don't go far from it once it starts to thicken because it will need too much stirring.

You can cook split peas in a slow cooker, but I haven't found the softening very reliable. A fast boil before you start might help.

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  • What temperature should I use? Also, would using a food processor to puree the peas be a useful shortcut?
    – Demi
    Aug 16 '16 at 16:15
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    The food processor will change the end result significantly, even if you're cooking until completely soft. Using the food processor first would make it more likely to stick and catch as you'll have a ticket liquid for longer; using it after cooking will blend everything else as well. In the slow cooker use high.
    – Chris H
    Aug 16 '16 at 16:19
  • What about the stove setting? What should I use for that?
    – Demi
    Aug 16 '16 at 16:20
  • Adjust it to get a fast boil if you're boiling fast. Turn it down to cook more gently (so it's just bubbling) the numbers are almost meaningless even ignoring the fact that it depends on your pan, how full it is, etc.
    – Chris H
    Aug 16 '16 at 16:24
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You can cook them in a pressure cooker. This will soften them in a relatively short amount of time. Another option is to soak them longer in advance of the cooking (for a day or so) in water, and baking soda...

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  • What about stirring?
    – Demi
    Sep 5 '18 at 19:56
  • When I want to stir/monitor my soup, I still like to soften my peas/beans/lentils/rice/etc in the instant pot, then stir in the rest of the ingredients afterward in sautee mode or on the stovetop. Jan 1 at 21:58
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I am alarmed to see a response that says to cook split peas in a pressure cooker. I use a Presto pressure cooker for many things, but its instructions are spelled out, "DO NOT COOK SPLIT PEAS." Please follow instructions for your pressure cooker to avoid a disaster in the kitchen. If after overnight soaking and cooking split peas for the normal time in the recipe, you might consider putting a portion into a blender or food processor to see if that gives the desired smoothness and creaminess.

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If the peas (and beans or lentils for that matter) are old, they will not soften. It is best to buy new ones. Their shelf life is about one year. If you can, try and buy from a place with a regular turn over of stock.

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It is very frustrating to find out your green or yellow split peas have not softened even after cooking for one hour. I find that if I puree them, then cook for another 30-60 minutes, the split peas will soften.

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I have cooked pea soup many times, and normally the peas soften. Bought a bag of split peas identified as Chana Dal (brand is Heer). Soaked for a day and half. Then cooked for 8 hours! still crunchy. I have heard that not all split peas are created equal. Will return to my old brand in future.

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    "Chana dal" is chickpeas, not peas.
    – Sneftel
    Dec 2 '20 at 8:46

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