Sometimes it's the simplest recipes that impress people the most. This is especially true with split pea soup. A pot of its rich green goodness will please any crowd.
From scratch, split pea soup can be ready for the table in about two hours. Simply add a mirepoix, a bit of ham or bacon and two or three basic herbs to a three pounds of green split peas and you have the recipe.
I simmered a pot of split pea soup for the ladies at the residential facility last Thursday. From initial comments, I though the soup was going to be a failure.
Residents inquired about the source of the wonderful aroma in the house throughout the morning. Many seemed disappointed when I explained that it was the soup. Their faces told me the soup may not be a popular as I had hoped.
That all changed when I called lunch at 11:30 p.m.
"I have not eaten split pea soup since I was a teenager," said Sarah (not her real name), a middle-aged resident who recently entered the program.
Sarah changed her mind saw a bowl of soup on the table at mealtime. "That soup was good."
The soup was a success. In my three weeks on the job, this was the first time the ladies ate all of the soup. Four or five servings are left after most meals.
I recorded "None left -- very well accepted" in my notebook. It looks like I now have several new converts to split pea soup.
SPLIT PEA SOUP
A ham bone or ham hock can be used to flavor the cooking liquid when ham stock isn't available. Simmer the water and bone together for an hour or more before making the soup. This'll extract more flavor from the bone.
6 ounces salt pork, diced small
10 ounces onion, chopped
5 ounces celery, chopped
5 ounces carrot, chopped
6 quarts ham or chicken stock
3 pounds green split peas
3 bay leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Cook salt pork slowly in a heavy sauce pot to render the fat. Do not brown. Add chopped onion, celery and carrot and sweat in fat until the vegetables are slightly softened.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add split peas, bay leaves and thyme. Cover and simmer until the peas are soft, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Puree soup if desired.
If soup is to thick bring it to proper consistency with a little stock or water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If ham hock is used, trim off the meat, dice and add to the soup.
Serves 25 (8-ounce) portions.
Post Script ...
I can't seem to convert one of my daughters. She posted "Ewwwwwwwww ..." in response to a status update on Facebook!.
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