• Grandma Zimmern’s Tailgating Pot of Love


Kielbasa & Pea Soup

By Andrew Zimmern

Whether you’re at the game or at home on the couch, this one-pot meal is fantastic football food. I bring this to almost every tailgate I attend. My grandma started making a version of this almost 50 years ago, using kosher hot dogs and her mom’s pea soup recipe. Suffice it to say, it’s changed. Make this soup with your favorite Eastern European sausage (kielbasa, Krakowska or Ukrainian)—they all rock in this soup. Use a mix if you are so inclined. I get my sausage from Kramarczuk’s in Minneapolis, and it’s worth mail ordering some links if you don’t have a good local sausage shop. I will admit that grocery store kielbasa works just fine, but depending on the brand, it can be really fatty and will leave the soup tasting greasy.

Grandma Zimmern's Tailgating Pot of Love

Servings: 12

Total: 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound Polish kielbasa links or other Eastern European-style sausage
  • 3 cups chopped escarole
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1   1/2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced fennel
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 meaty ham bone or smoked pork shank
  • 3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1   1/2 cups green split peas
  • 1   1/2 cups yellow split peas
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • White vinegar, hot sauce and crusty bread, for serving


In a small skillet, toast the caraway seeds over medium heat, stirring until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Finely grind the seeds in a spice grinder.

In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the sausage and cook over moderate heat until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a plate, cover and refrigerate.

Add the escarole, carrots, celery, onion, fennel, garlic, thyme and ground caraway seeds to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the ham bone and broth and bring to a boil. Add the peas, cover partially and simmer until the peas are tender, about 1 hour.

Gently mash some of the peas to thicken the broth. Thinly slice the sausage, add it to the soup and simmer until the sausage is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season the stew with sea salt and white pepper. Serve with white vinegar, hot sauce and bread.

MAKE AHEAD The stew can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Photograph by Stephanie Meyer.

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