These days I am wading around with my head slightly above water, at least from the earlobes up. Which is to say that when it rains it pours, and I have suddenly found myself caught in a serious monsoon. Which is to say that I am busy, running between rehearsals for one play (in which I play a Russian mail order bride with one leg: no joke), and rehearsals for a couple of super cool plays in progress with my company, rewrites for my own play, planning a ridiculously huge reception for this, and keeping up with those pesky things called jobs, and laundry (actually, that's a joke--the Boyfriend took that task on long ago), and emailing, and being a good daughter, and friend, and on and on. Which is to say that yesterday, I made soup.
You might think soup is sort of a time consuming choice for someone with none of that to spare, and I might agree with you, except for the fact that this recipe is so simple and most of it involves sitting in the other room, working on your russian accent or staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration while your apartment fills up with a yummy, comforting scent that will give your frayed nerves a foot massage. What? Leeme alone. I'm tired.
It was Earth Day yesterday, so in the spirit of recycling, I pulled out the ham bone left over from Easter and decided it was split pea soup time. A big fan of the split pea, the Boyfriend wondered aloud, 'what soup is actually better than split pea?' 'lentil,' I ventured? 'I feel like lentil is what people ate before they realized they could have split pea,' he countered. Fair enough. Note from the Boo: Um ... they're not the same ? (I have no business writing a food blog). Our Grandma's split pea was transcendent and perfectly salty (often lacking in ones I order), if you'll remember. My tastebuds have sadly almost forgotten the exact flavor, but after making this batch I think I may have recaptured the sentiment at least. Comforting, simple, hearty, and earthy. Make this today before the 80 degree weather hits on Saturday.
Split Pea Soup
adapted from Bon Appetit, by Patricia Murray: County Kerry, Ireland
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 or so large onions, chopped
1.5 cup chopped celery
1.5 cup chopped peeled carrots (I used a bag of baby carrots we had lying around)
1 1/2 pounds ham hock (didn't weigh mine but it was a good sized meaty bone from a large ham)
2 teaspoons dried thyme (recipe called for marjoram but i don't like it)
3 cups green split peas
12 cups water
Salt and pepper
1 boullion cube (I threw this in but you might do without it, or use stock instead of water, or make a stock first with the ham bone and use that in place of the water)
Melt the butter in a large dutch oven or pot. Sautee the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the ham bone and thyme, stir about 1 minute. Add the peas and water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pot with lid and let it go for about 1 hour 10 minutes. Start tasting. I thought it was a little bland and added some of a cube of boullion. I would wait to add salt until the end since the ham is quite salty and you don't want to overdo it. After the hour had passed, I realized it was too watery for my taste, and I let it go for another 20-30 minutes at a good simmer, with no lid until it thickened. You can do this to whatever consistency you prefer. I turned off the heat, took out the ham bone, and plunked in my immersion blender to puree some of the soup until it was just smooth enough with some tasty vegetable chunks. You can cut the meat off the bone and add it back to the pot, or serve it as is. Since we've eaten enough pork to repopulate a small farm in recent days, we left it out and it was delicious. Serve with buttered, crusty bread or croutons dunked in.