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Why Split Pea Soup Tastes Burned?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Every time I've made split pea soup, which is about three times, it has hints of a kind of burned taste. I didn't burn it any of those times.

Any idea what this is and how to remedy it?

The recipe I'm using is:
I just wash and rinse the peas. I haven't picked any of the peas out. I didn't see an obviously bad ones. Then I add water, bring them to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the peas disintegrate into a smooth consistency (relatively smooth, I don't strain or put them in a blender.) I usually add salt and pepper after a while, and garlic cloves, diced onion, and maybe carrots towards the end, but the burned flavor is there before I add them.
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post #2 of 22
Hi Tom,

I'm not sure about the answer to your splitting question, but I do have a few questions until others have come to your rescue.

What type of pot/pan do you use, is it aluminum?

How long do you simmer for?

Have you tried making the soup using frozen peas? Frozen peas really aren't that bad.

What type of salt? Is it iodized table salt? Iodized table salt gives me a metallic aftertaste, not sure about anyone else.

good luck!
dan
post #3 of 22
Shouldn't taste burnt, and I'm not sure what would be causing that. Pea soup can deteriorate if held too long at too high a temp. You can actually see this as the soup will start to have a brownish cast. It won't taste burnt really, but it will have a distinctive scorched taste. Peas are starchy and the starch will break down and brown. (Think flour in brown roux.) Try simmering for awhile and then turning the pan off and letting the soup sit and finish cooking. Or cook until the peas are tender but not disintegrating and use a food processor to puree part of it for the thickness.
post #4 of 22
Soak peas overnight in 4 parts water 1 part peas. drain
Saute celery, onions and carrots,garlic in bacon fat or oil till limp add peas and chicken or,vege stock cook low heat on closed flame if possible. If you like you could add a smoked ham bone to cook with the soup. Puree whole thing. This should not give a burned taste at all/ Reading how you prep your soup leads me to believe it lacks flavor since water and dry peas do not make pea soup. Why add vegies at the end?:chef:
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post #5 of 22
I am inclined to believe that you are using a pot with a thin bottom that does not transfer well. If you suspect that your soup is stuck to the bottom, then please do not stir up the bottom.

Take your soup out, puree in batches, and put into a new pot. Adjust your seasoning from there.
Jason Sandeman

Real Food Through Solid Technique
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Jason Sandeman

Real Food Through Solid Technique
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post #6 of 22
Other than the fact that split peas do not need to be soaked (in fact they should not be), Ed Buchanan's advice is good. Two things I would add to it are:
  1. Water is fine. Stock will give a bit more flavor, but water is just fine.
  2. When you sauté the vegetables first, don't cook them all at once. First start the carrots, and cook until they start to turn golden; then add the celery and cook a little; then the onion, and again cook until light gold; finally add the garlic and cook only briefly. Each time you add another vegetable, stir the whole thing. This will develop more flavor. But only use medium-high heat (or medium if your pot is thin), not high, and watch carefully that nothing gets dark brown or burns.

But the problem with the burnt flavor could be simple: do you ever stir the split peas as they cook? If not, what happens is: some sink to the bottom of the pot and, yes, burn. If you're using a thinner pot, stir more often. (As has been noted, thin metal can make for poor heat transfer.) But if when you scrape the bottom of the pot while stirring, you bring up what looks like burnt peas, STOP. Turn off the heat, let the soup settle, and transfer it carefully to a clean pot. Then proceed. (Jason Sandeman is correct about not stirring in the burnt part.)

All the best,
SuzanneManhattan ;)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #7 of 22
We soak them for 2 reasons. 1. they do cook faster /2. when you soak them on many occassion you will see tiny foreign objects float to top sometimes they look like bug wings. If you don't want to soak and yet cook quick add a dash of baking soda to the water. Another hint sometime pea soup seperates, if you want to prevent this add potatoes to it and puree them to. The starch holds soup together.
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post #8 of 22
I agree with everything except for the baking sode. I might be wrong, but does baking soda destroy the nutrients in the peas?
Jason Sandeman

Real Food Through Solid Technique
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Jason Sandeman

Real Food Through Solid Technique
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post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi. Thanks for all the feedback. I usually use a very heavy bottom pot from Cuisinart. Still, upon closer examination last night, I found a think layer of brown stuck to the bottom of the pan. I usually make two bags (2 pounds) at a time in a 4 quart pot that they almost fill (after expanding.) As this takes a while to bring to a boil, I have a tendency when starting the soup out to put the fire on high and not attend to it closely until it starts boiling and then lower to simmer. I suspect I might be getting just a little burning at this time.

Another thing could be is that even on simmer, the peas have a tendency to settle thickly towards the bottom with the liquid rising to the top. Perhaps that is problematic also. I usually simmer them for a couple of hours and don't particularly feel like stirring them all the time.
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post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi Dan,
I usually use a Cuisinart stainless steel 4 qt w/ the triple sandwich metal going up the sides. Can't get a much better pot than that, I don't think. 2 pounds barely fits in there though, especially if I add a lot of vegetables, so in the future I might try an enamaled steel 6 quart pot I got. (I've used that for beans successfully.) That one is pretty thin though and I'd probably have to be extra careful not to burn split peas in it.

I use the dried peas from the one pound bags. The bag says 15-30 minutes, but I find they need a couple of hours to break down.

Haven't tried frozen. But frozen peas would be a lot more expensive than the dried ones I think.

I sometimes use idodized salt, but lately I have been using Kosher Sea Salt. I have a pretty big box of it, so it is lasting for quite a while. ( I usually only cook for myself now and then.)
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post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi Grey,
I haven't seen a brownish cast, but like you say if doesn't actually taste burnt, like if it was clearly burnt. But it does have a sort of burned/scorched taste.

I did get a thin brown layer on the bottom. It was brown, not black like something that was clearly burnt. I've burnt things and there is a definate difference.

It seems I cook them for an awful long time compared to what it says on the bag to do. I didn't understand why many recipes call for blending them. Maybe the idea is to not cook them so long and use the blender? I get the same smooth effect, but it takes 2-3 hours of cooking to get it.
=TB
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post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi Ed,
With peas, like beans, I didn't think soaking was necessary, but it does shorten the cooking time. I usually soak beans now, because I like them soft and I find soaking takes a couple of hours off the usual 5-6 I cook them without soaking. I haven't bothered soaking with peas, but I'll try it. It doesn't hurt to shorten the time on the fire.

I'm glad you brought up sauteing the vegtables. With split pea, I haven't bothered sauteing the garlic and onions because they disintegrate into the "mush" after an hour or two anyway. Even with carrots and celery which I think might not break down to mush, if one is going to blend the whole concoction later, why bother sauteing them first?

By the way, I have been getting this "burned" or "scortched" flavor near the beginning of the cook time, and it actually seems to go away mostly the longer I cook the peas. That's why I think it might be burning just a little when I bring it up to a boil on high, and not during the long simmer process.
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post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi Suzanne,
right after reading Ed's suggestion to soak, I noticed your advisement to avoid it. I didn't think it was required, but I didn't think there was any harm in it. Why do feel they shouldn't be?
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post #14 of 22
Here's the recipe of the pea soup for which Pea Soup Anderson's Restaurant in Buellton, CA is named.

Recipe: Anderson's Split Pea Soup | Recipes @ RecipeLand.com

It's probably the most famous pea soup in California, if not the entire universe. :rolleyes:

If you do it like he does it, you should be just fine. He's been serving it since at least the end of WW II, and probably before that. We first had some around 1965, and were last there sometime in 1974. It was excellent every time!

Mike
travelling gourmand
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post #15 of 22
Because split peas have no skin, no husk -- they are just the inside "flesh" of the pea. Soaking helps to rehydrate pulses and legumes that have skins, and need a longer time to cook to get the water into the bean to cook it. Since split peas have no skin, they rehydrate quickly as they cook. And in my experience, split peas cook pretty rapidly.

It may not hurt, as long as you cook them in the soaking water, but really, for split peas it is not necessary. Whole dried peas and beans are another story entirely.

As for the stuff that Ed B. sees coming off of them -- if he would just put them into a container with water, swish them around briefly, then let the peas settle to the bottom and the detritus to rise to the top, he could pour that off with most of the water. But a long soak for split peas? Naw. :lol:

:laser:But as to that brown layer you find in the bottom of the pot: see, I was right. ;) That's burnt-on peas. You don't have to stir it constantly, just occasionally. Whenever you think of it. And, as I said, if you go to stir it and bring up that brown gunk, transfer the soup to another pot. Once you've got a burnt layer, you will absolutely get that burnt flavor in your soup.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #16 of 22
I typically use the bone from a smoked ham in my peas soup. If the ham has an especially strong smokey flavor, this will definately inflluence the soup, and possibly not in a good way if it is too strong.
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post #17 of 22
if its browning (not blackening), then this is not burning. It's a reaction to the slow cooking of the carbohydrates, that has an enzymatic effect known as the 'Maillard reaction'. This is because peas like all legumes, are incredibly starchy (the sugars are coverted to starch for storage) and break back down to sugars through prolonged cooking.
The flavour works great in bread, chocolate, coffee and your steak, but not so great in your pea soup (as the bitterness from browned green vegetables, is the first thing detected- see; pyridines).
Don't let the sugars concetrate, which means: more cooking liquid, or shorter cooking. Soaking WILL help as it will reduce cooking time, and therefore reduce reaction times.

Split peas have had their skin removed that is correct, but any moisture in the cotyledon will greatly increase cooking time (soaking is not just to hydrate the skins- thats only step 1- its important to absorb some moisture in the starches, to transfer heat more efficiently).

If you're wondering why it's taking so long to cook maybe I can shed some light on it: The cell walls of legumes and peas are reinforced by acids...

...where does your acids come from? Even the shift in PH of hard water is enough to GREATLY increase cooking time.
Solution? Baking soda in the cooking water (0.5%- 5g/l) -alkaline conditions dissolve the hemicelluloses in the cell wall matrix. This will reduce cooking time by up to 75%!!

One more thing; DO NOT ADD SALT IN THE COOKING WATER until after cooked, this increases cooking time as it reinforces the structure of the cell walls. Interestingly though, adding 1% salt to your SOAKING water REDUCES cooking time (slightly).

Sorry if that was a touch bit scientific, if you don't understand it PM and I'll translate it into none-geek English!
post #18 of 22
Yes and no, NO: It does nothing in particular to destroy the nutrients. YES: It dissolves the hemicellulose in the cell walls, and the legume (or pea here) softens and dissolves (ie. cooks) faster. Therefore, some nutrients (held inside the cells) are lost in the cooking liquid. NOT a problem with soup as the cooking liquid will also be eaten.
post #19 of 22
Not on the topic of burnt taste, but another thing that was brought up here:

I would say there is a definite difference between soup made from split peas vs frozen peas, in cooking method and in the result. Both are great; I wouldn't want to do without either one. Frozen peas are pretty inexpensive.
post #20 of 22
Regarding your warning against salted cooking water: does this include stock, which has either some salt or quite a bit (depending on who made it)? Besides increasing the cooking time, would it have any adverse effect on the final flavor of the cooked peas?
RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
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RJM

Someone told me that the fastest way to lose weight is by eating home-cooked meals.

They aren't eating what I'm cooking.
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post #21 of 22
Yes Jason it does, but I am not running a health food facility they just want good soup.
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post #22 of 22
I.E
You can get to much salt out, pepper to for that matter(there are ways) but the burn taste 1000s of different ways have been tried. The only thing that works is dont burn it.
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