Speaking of warm comfort foods....here's something I really love. A little time-consuming (you gotta watch the stove!), but worth it. It can be done with traditional green split-peas, but the yellow split-peas won't remind you of The Exorcist.
(sorry if it seems over-simplified; I originally posted it to be as "fool-proof" as possible)
one (1-pound) bag, dried yellow split-peas (about 8 1/2 cups)
2 14.5-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth*
1 14.5-ounce can beef broth*
(* or, substitute 1.5 quarts of home made broth: chicken, beef, or vegetable)
1 TBS unsalted butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 medium-sized red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 to 4 stalks celery, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
about 1/4 pound finely-diced ham or prosciutto (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup, diced)
1 or 2 cloves fresh garlic (depending on your taste), minced
1/2 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1 to 2 cups water, as needed
about 1/4 cup freshly-chopped parsley (for garnish)
First, thoroughly rinse the dried split-peas in cool water; drain them in a strainer, then rinse again. Set aside, with the strainer over a bowl. Do not use a collander; the split-peas will just fall through!
In a large (2-quart or larger) pot, add the butter and olive oil, over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and a bit foamy, add the onion and the ham/prosciutto. Stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, allow the mixture to brown slightly. Do not reduce the heat.
After about 3 to 4 minutes, add the celery and the garlic. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently. At this point, it won't brown much more.
Add all of the broth to the pot; be careful, the first couple of ounces will probably vaporize very quickly. Don't get burned! Raise the heat to medium-high, and allow the mixture to begin to boil. When it's boiling, carefully dump in the rinsed split-peas....they tend to stick together, so watch out for splashing.
At this point, add the basil, thyme, dill, and cayenne pepper. Hold off adding the salt and black pepper until the end of the cooking process. Stir the mixture, and allow it to return to a gentle boil. Place a vented lid on the pot (or, place a non-vented lid on, but leave it at an angle to allow steam to escape). Reduce heat to low, and forget about it for about 20-30 minutes.
After the soup has simmered for 20-30 minutes, give it a good stir. The peas should have begun to break down by this point; alot of "pea material" will settle to the bottom of the pot (sorry, I can't think of a nicer way to describe that!). Replace the vented lid, and allow the soup to simmer gently for another 30-45 minutes. At this point, though, you'll want to check on it every 10 minutes or so. If it's getting too thick or boiling too rapidly, add about 1/4 cup of the water. After 10 more minutes, you can add more water, if necessary. The idea is to have a soup that's thick, but NOT dough-like. Also, keep in mind that the soup will thicken all by itself when it's in the serving bowl.
When the soup is fully cooked, there shouldn't be any real pieces of split-peas left.
Now is the time to taste the soup, for seasoning. Add some fresh-ground black pepper, to taste, but be careful with the salt! The broth already has salt in it, and so does the ham (or the prosciutto).
When ready, ladle the soup into bowls; top with fresh, chopped parsley. Like any hearty soup, this stuff is best served with some nice, crusty bread alongside. You might also try grating some Romano or Parmesan cheese onto the soup.