Sunday, February 6, 2011

First Time for Everything: Split Pea Soup

At the rate things are going this winter, I'm going to be making a lot of soup. We've had snow, ice, more snow. My landlords have plowed my car into its parking space on one hand and on the other demanded I clean it and move it on their deadline. So I'm staying inside a lot.

First time I had split pea soup was in my first apartment. My landlady made some and served it with bits of ham and swiss on the side. It was rich, thick enough to stand the spoon straight up, and was very warming and delicious.

I realize ham is traditional, but I've always had a thing for a good smoked sausage, so when I found a recipe to start with, I made, as usual, my own adjustments:

My final list of ingredients, which differ slightly from Simply Recipes:

One pound split peas (I used yellow; the store didn't have green that day)
One large onion, chopped
One large leek, chopped
One large carrot, chopped
6 cloves of garlic chopped
2.5 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
garlic salt to taste
freshly ground peppercorns to taste
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
8 sprigs Italian Parsley
12 oz smoked sausage, sliced to 1/2"

I knew if I overcooked the sausage, it wouldn't be a lot of fun, so I took the advice of another recipe (I lost the link; I looked at so many) and lightly cooked the sausage at the bottom of pot on low heat, then removed it with the slotted spoon and set it aside.

Next, I sautee'd all the chopped vegetables in the remaining sausage fat for about five minutes. I ended up throwing in about tablespoon of butter because the fat was getting absorbed.

Next, I added the chicken stock. The recipe said to add water, but this is a place where I happily had broth. While beer might be a good accompaniment, I was not making beer soup, wine had the wrong flavor profile, and chicken broth is mild enough not to overpower the sausage.

Lastly, I stirred in the peas and brought the whole mixture to a boil. After skimming the foam off the top (there wasn't much), I brought the heat down to just above simmer, put the cover on 7/8 of the way and let it cook for the required hour and a half.

Then I called my friend Gina in a panic. "It's not soup!" The peas were only partly soft, and it didn't taste like anything. After being calmed down and reassured that it probably just needed to cook down some more, I stirred it, took the lid off and let it cook for another couple hours.

Sometime in that two hours the magic happened because I had soft peas with lots of flavor, tasty vegetables and a hint of spice. I added some more pepper.

There is an immersion blender in this apartment somewhere. There's also my digital camera and a nice pair of knee-high boots. I did find my purple sweater yesterday, so there's hope. So, lacking the immersion blender, I ran the soup through my regular blender two cups at a time. Never overfill your blender, and always keep one hand on its lid. Trust me on this one. I nearly lost a brand-new sweater not heeding this advice

After blending, I reintroduced the sausage, stirred and fed a bowl to my sweetie. He wasn't sure he had had pea soup before, and definitely liked this one. I had mine topped with a little swiss and a toasted English muffin. The recipe makes four generous servings--enough for a main dish, or six small servings if there's a sandwich and salad involved.

Next time, I think a little heavier on the spices. I'd like more of the allspice. I'm not sure the celery seed was necessary. Watch this space for take two.

How do you like your split peas?

Questions? Comments? Death threats? I'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. A Cuisinart is also good for the blending stage of this--it's what I always use with my lentil soup, which is exactly the same as your soup save the legume involved.