Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Split Pea Soup

I know split pea soup is old hat for most of you, but this is for a beloved friend who wanted my direction
1 bag split peas
2 boxes aseptic pkg chicken or vegetable broth OR
Any kind bouillon dissolved to make 8 cups*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tomato (or more and this is optional)
5 stalks of celery
1 onion
Spices to taste I use:
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seed
Salt to taste
Put olive oil in the bottom of a large, deep pan that has a cover. Chop onion and celery and add to oil.

Cook on medium to low heat ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t let heat get up too high. Add all spices but the salt. When celery and onions are soft (about 5 minutes longer), add the tomatoes and cook for five minutes. I also added some shredded carrots which I had on hand. Maybe a half a cup. Carrots are also optional.
Add the entire bag of split peas. Mix them in with the vegetables, oils, and spices thoroughly. Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly. This step infuses the split peas with the spicy flavor.

Add 4 cups of whatever broth you chose. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low and cook 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not keep the heat on too high.
Check the soup from time to time during cooking. Add more liquid as needed. The amount of liquid needed varies according to the crop of beans and how long they’ve been on the shelf. If the mixture becomes extremely thick, add more water. The mixture starts out watery and gets thicker. If it gets sludgy looking, you need more water. Remember you can always add more water, but it is hard to take it out when you add too much.
The picture above is just the right amount of cooking water.  After 40 minutes, your soup is basically finished. Take a taste and put in salt to taste. You can eat it as is after adding the salt. OR you can get fancy and draw off about two cups of the soup from the big pan. Let it cool thoroughly and run it through the blender. Add this back into the soup for a smoother texture if you like.

You can boost up the nutrition by adding a cup and a half of frozen corn or frozen mixed vegetables. Or not. Whatever you want. Pea soup is extremely forgiving. I like to serve it with cornbread baked in a round cake pan. Fresh grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese are both tasty on top of split pea soup. A salad is a nice side dish. Then you have dinner.

*Now, as you know, I enjoy channeling my inner Martha Stuart. I make my own broth. I will explain that process below. You may use any type of broth you like.

I usually roast a chicken with herbs In the cavity. I pick the chicken clean of the meat I want to use for another meal. I take the entire chicken that is left, with the herbs and put it in my largest crock pot. I add an onion cut in half and a few stalks of celery. I fill the crock pot up with water to the very top. Finally, I add a capful of whatever vinegar I have on hand which will boost the calcium from the bones. I turn the crock pot on high until it is very hot. Then turn it down on low for at least 8 hours or more. I strain the broth and take the remains, put them through the blender and put it in the dog’s kibble. They really like it.

If you do not have a dog or a neighbor’s dog who jumps your fence all the time, you may discard this leftover stuff with my blessings.  Here's what it looks like when it is all finished.

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