Monday, September 20, 2010

Tried and True - Split pea soup

We had a busy weekend at Featherstone Farm.  Thanks to all who bundled up and traveled to the Fall Harvest Party.  I very much enjoyed meeting some of you and hearing your comments and questions.  I think I will be using Facebook occasionally to answer some of the questions you asked.

Pea soup is a staple in our house almost year round.  Even when my kids decided they were not going to eat lentils or cooked carrots they would eat pea soup.  It is very easy to make, nourishing and - yes - comforting.

This recipe is based on the one in the 1986 edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook.  It calls for ham.  You could omit the ham and use a smoked pork hock,  polish sausage or even hot dogs.  Even smoked turkey or chicken or some salt pork.   You can make the soup without meat - but then I would use a flavorful vegetable stock instead of water.

Pea soup ingredients
Split pea soup    Makes 8  1 and 1/2 cup servings

8 cups water
1 pound dried split peas (about 2 1/4 cups)
Smoked ham or other smoked meat.  (I used a piece of ham weighing about a pound.  If you have a ham bone around with a little meat left on it that is the best.  The recipe calls for 2 pounds of ham yielding 4 cups of ham pieces.  I think that is a lot more meat than necessary.   You decide what is right for you.)
1/2 cup chopped onion (about one medium)
1 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper
Chopped carrots and celery - about 1 cup each.  I like pieces about 1/4 inch in size.  Larger is okay too.
1 bay leaf
Herbs and spices  - herbs are optional.  I had some fresh parsley and dill on hand so I added about 1/4 cup, chopped, of each.  The Swedes season their pea soup with marjoram and thyme.  Cloves -- used very judiciously -- also are good.  (I used 1/8 t. for this recipe.)  You could even add 1 or 2 wholes cloves with the bay leaf - just remember to fish them out before serving.

Add peas to water and bring to a boil  Boil for 2 minutes, remove from heat and let stand one hour.
Stir ham, onion, bay leaf, salt and pepper into peas.  Simmer for about an hour, or until peas are tender. 
Remove ham from soup.  Cut meat into pieces.  Add carrots and celery.  Bring soup back to a boil, then simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender - about 45 minutes.  This soups is even better served the day after it is made.  It freezes very well.

Variation:  If I want a heartier soup or need to "stretch" it -- I add  2 cups of diced potatoes along with the carrots and celery.  (Note - the potatoes do not freeze well.)

In Sweden, it once was and maybe still is traditional to serve thick pea soup and salt pork - made with yellow split peas - every Thursday night in the winter.   Also part of that traditional meal are Plattar -- Swedish pancakes, served with fruit preserves.  Maybe pea soup and pancakes could become a weekly tradition in your house this winter.  Filling, frugal and flavorful -- pretty good.  Could be worse.

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