Friday, May 21, 2010

Basie Bytes: "Split Pea Soup" at Basil T's

This Week's Best Bet:
Split Pea Soup at Basil T's

If you're familiar with the area, you know that when heading down Route 35 south, upon crossing the Red Bank bridge into town, one of the first businesses you're greeted with is Basil T's Brewery & Italian Grill. They've been here for many years and have a very loyal following of devotee diners as well as over 1,000 "Mug Club" members -- which they claim is "the largest in America"!

But what you might not know is this: they have perfected the old-world classic, split pea soup.

Yes, it sounds simple enough at first... but don't let that fool you. They had us at first spoonful.

The humble listing in the menu reads:

Zuppa Piselli
Old-fashioned Pea Soup with Pancetta
Cup - $4.50 / Bowl - $8

...Pancetta??? If you're scratching your heads, well then yes... it's true that traditional split pea soup is prepared with regular ol' ham. But this addition of pancetta (aka, Italy's version of bacon) adds the perfect salty bite to compliment this homemade soup. Served with a large crouton and some freshly shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, it is just a perfect dish in any season. And luckily, they have it in every season!

Here is what Basil T's had to say about their Split Pea Soup:

"The Split Pea Soup is a Basil T's original in the truest sense of the word; it is the only thing on our menu that has never been changed or removed since we opened. Every other dish on the menu was added later or has been tweaked in some way except the Split Pea Soup."

Our other favorites here include Bolognese (house-made ruffled pappardelle, veal, beef and pork, Italian tomato, fennel seed, onion and celery finished with marscapone cheese), Orecchiette Salsiccia (house-made orecchiette, sausage, broccoli rabe, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and Pecorino cheese) and Rigatoni Melazane which features house-made rigatoni, fresh tomato sauce, and Pecorino-Romano with small cubes of lightly-fried eggplant which melt in your mouth like little pillows of genius!

Basil T's was kind enough to provide us with the basic recipe for their Split Pea Soup as well so you can do your best to replicate it at home... but next time you're in town, stop by their restaurant and try the real thing!


Add 1 cup of each, finely diced: carrot, onion and celery, with diced pancetta. Cook in olive oil until vegetables and pancetta are browned. Add 1 bag of split peas, and 3 quarts of chicken stock. Cook while whisking every 5 minutes until ready (about 40 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Basil T's Italian Brewery & Grill
183 Riverside Avenue | Red Bank, NJ 07701 | (732) 842-5990