Here in America, next weekend marks the end of Daylight Saving Time. Why we still do this is a topic of endless debate; frankly I think the entire world should be on one global time zone anyway, but early Sunday morning, most of us will dutifully set our clocks back one hour and it will get dark at 5:30. To me this is the true end of summer and the harbinger of cold winter nights. Well, at least as cold as winter nights get here in Southern California. (Sorry Minnesotans.)
Winter is soup and stew weather. So, here is a hearty pea soup that is a snap to prepare, is eminently variable and delicious. There is a bit of chopping and dicing at the beginning, but the soup can simmer mostly unattended.
Dried split peas come in green and yellow. They don’t need soaking, but you should rinse them well a couple of times. We will use green peas and flavor the soup with some vegetables. You can add other herbs and spices such as nutmeg, mace, mint, marjoram, rosemary, black pepper, cloves, curry powder and allspice to your taste, we normally don’t spice this soup up too much, contrary to normal Hot Eddie’s protocol. We do add some thyme and a bay leaf. You can add other vegetables such as turnip, parsnip, or kohlrabi. This recipe is strictly vegan, healthful and nutritious. If you must have meat, you can include a smoked ham hock or other meat to add another layer of flavor, but we like it just the way it is.
Famous Hand Model Split Pea Soup – Prep time 15 minutes Cook time 45 minutes. Makes 8 – 10 cups
2 quarts water
1 Lb Green Split Peas (one bag)
3 peeled medium carrots
1 medium onion
2 stalks celery
4 cloves fresh garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the peas into a 4 quart covered stockpot. Cover with water and swirl. Discard any floaters. Pour into a strainer and rinse both the peas and the pot. Put the peas back in the pot.
Cut the carrots, celery and onion into ⅛” dice. This is a combination you will use over and over again, called a mirepoix. It flavors everything from pasta sauce to beef stew and everything in between. We’ll use this combination a lot.
Split the leek into quarters and finely mince the leek, peel and mince the garlic.
Add everything to the pot except for the salt and pepper. If you are using other spices and herbs (or meat) add them now along with the water. Bring to a gentle boil.
Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes or an hour (until the peas start to disintegrate), stirring occasionally. If the heat is too high, the peas on the bottom may scorch, so keep it at a slow simmer.
Discard the bay leaf and the thyme sprig if using fresh thyme. At this point, you can mash some of the peas with a spoon or a potato masher to thicken the soup but leave the texture of the veggies. If you want a smoother soup, puree with an immersion blender (boat motor) till it has the consistency you like. Correct seasoning. I like it a little peppery.
Garnish with a sprig of fresh Italian parsley and serve with hot corn bread or crusty bread of your choice. You can drizzle a half teaspoon of very good extra virgin olive oil over the soup to give it a final fillip. It is deceptively simple but extremely delicious. It freezes perfectly to have on hand for those grey days and rainy nights.