Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Green Pea Soup

Diary reader Ginny Jones from Martha's Vineyard in the US was prompted by a post back in November 2013, here, which mentioned pea soup, to claim that she had the world's best recipe.  Here it is, though Ginny warns that success is very dependent upon cooking by eye and by instinct.

Find a good meaty hambone or ham hock -- (Betsy's offspring?) -- and I would urge organic. They are hard to find unless you deal direct with a farmer but so much better than industrialized pork. There should be meat and not a lot of fat.  If there is fat, trim it off.

Put it in a deep soup pot and add in three or four large carrots which have either been scraped, or washed and sliced up into "coins." Add in:
  • A large chopped up onion or even two. 
  • A stalk of celery which has been finely chopped.
  • Chopped up mushrooms (button or crimini, which are small portabello)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A small pinch of dried thyme leaves
  • A small pinch cracked pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes (or some chopped fresh)
Cover the whole with water to a depth of an inch or two over the top of the ham bone.  Add in about 12 to 16ozs of green split peas (some people prefer yellow split peas) depending upon the size of the pot and how thick you like your soup. Stir everything to amalgamate and if necessary add more water.

Heat to a boil, stir and reduce the heat to a very slow simmer. Stir occasionally and top up with water if necessary.  If the soup is thick it has to be watched more carefully even at a very gentle simmer (barely a bubble) as it can "stick" more easily. If it does start to stick, turn the pot off and cover. Let sit for a bit and then stir thoroughly. The peas should turn to mush -- if the soup is too thin add in some more split peas or briefly increase heat.

Let simmer until the meat is falling off the bone -- remove the bone to a plate and strip of the meat, chop into moderately sized chunks and return to the pot. Give the bone to a deserving dog.

VARIATIONS: Add in several handfuls of small spinach leaves, or chopped up larger spinach. Omit the mushrooms. Use chopped up smoked ham rather than a meaty ham bone. Use a mix of both green and yellow split peas.

Let the soup cool; it will solidify and flavor will develop. Serve for supper or the next day gently heated. The soup will liquefy somewhat as it is gently heated. If not, add a bit more water.

Serve with salt and pepper, warm cornbread and a salad of greens.

Cornbread -- I recommend looking for a recipe on the internet as it is fun to do some research and there are plenty of recipes available. Cornbread is probably best known as a southern American dish and you'll find some great other dishes.

Many thanks to Ginny for taking the trouble to give us this recipe.

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