Monday, June 6, 2011

Last Call For Soup!

Yes it is nearly summer and soup season is over until the fall, but I really wanted to sing the praises of this soup.  I tried to come up with some nerdy content about the goodness of yellow peas and how they are different from green peas but I didn't find much, so, let me just take a moment to highlight peas in general.  They are such cute little veggies!
As a kid I, remember frequently being served peas at dinner and trying to fit one on each tine on my fork; time consuming but fun when you are seven.  They are entertaining to chase around the plate and a great occupier for an early eater to practice hand, eye, and mouth coordination.  Our neighbors grew peas when I was little and we used to go and pick them right off the vine and eat them in the back yard, oh they are so good fresh!
Peas are a starchy vegetable and therefore hold up well in cooked dishes or to top off a salad.  I always keep a bag of frozen peas on hand to toss into pasta, rice or canned soups that need more vegetables.  You could even float them in gelatin for a fun and festive - wait never mind don't do that, I got carried away there.  This summer make sure to grab them fresh when they are in season.
I always liked green pea soup, but I discovered awhile back that IKEA serves a really delicious yellow pea soup.  We had always gone there for the meatballs (flat-pack furniture optional), but when I began looking for healthier options I gave the soup a try.  It does go a little heavy on the salt but is still quite a satisfying bowl of goodness.  I think one of the appealing things about pea soup, in general, is the texture; it is thicker, more chowder-like in consistency than a broth based soup and therefore has a more hearty, filling effect.  I may be slimming down, but darn it, sometimes I just need to feel like I ate something!  
I started working on my own version of the soup because a trip to IKEA from my house is a bit of a trek for lunch.  So far I am getting very pleasing results with a few basic ingredients.  I bought a bag of yellow split peas a month or so ago, and on a grey day last week, pulled them out and whipped up a batch.  It took about 30 minutes to prep and then about 2 to 3 hours of simmering for the flavors to come together.  Aside from the flavor I like to make soup from scratch, because the recipe can be tweaked to fit the ingredients I have on hand, the result is low fat, much less salty when I make it at home, and the house smells good while it is cooking.
Another highlight of this soup is the cost.  Assuming you keep some herbs and oil on hand this soup costs very little to whip up. The peas were around 65 cents and the veggies were a few dollars.  From one pot of soup we will get a couple of dinners and several lunches.  It also freezes well so you can eat half now and half when you need a quick meal option.  I wanted to point this out because I truly believe it is possible to eat healthy even when you are budgeting time and money.
The recipe below is my latest rendition.  I rarely make a recipe the same way twice, partly because I like to try new things and partly because I cook based on what ingredients I have on hand.  The quantities I list below are fairly accurate but I didn't measure everything before tossing it into my pot.  I apologize to those of you who are more comfortable with a more scientific approach but I encourage everyone to cook to their own taste.  In that vein I would suggest if it appeals to your palate to try swapping the dill I list below for curry or even some cumin.  Toss a bit in and taste, then add more to suit your taste preference.
Keep trying new things and have fun with your food.  Don't be a slave to healthy eating; love it, live it, and pass it along!
Yellow Pea Soup - A Work in Progress:

1 bag (1 lb) of dry yellow split peas
Veggies Sweating
5 stalks of celery with leaves if available
5 carrots
1 yellow onion
3-4 garlic cloves
2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Dry Dill
1 Tablespoon of dried herb blend (i.e. Herbs de Province or Italian Herbs)
8 cups water
2 1/2 Tablespoons of veggie base or chicken bouillon*
Salt and Pepper to taste
Approximately 1 1/2 cups of ham cubes (optional)*
  • Rinse the dry peas in a mesh strainer and set aside.
  • In a large soup pot drizzle 2 - 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and set on medium heat.
  • Peel and mince the garlic cloves.
  • Wash and dice the onion, celery and carrots to around 1/2 or 3/4 inch pieces.
  • Add the vegetables to the soup pot and allow to sweat for a few minutes until the onions begin to turn translucent.  Stir a few times.
  • Pour in the water and add the veggie base or chicken bouillon, stir.
  • Add the herbs and salt and pepper.
  • If including the ham cubes add them now and give the pot one final stir. 
  • Turn the heat to low, pop on the lid, and allow the soup to simmer for 2 to 3 hours (stir occasionally).
  • The soup is done when the vegetables are soft all the way through.  It will have a rustic texture.
Makes approximately 16 cups of thick soup.  For a thinner soup just add a few cups more water.  When reheating leftovers I recommend adding a bit of water to loosen up the texture.

*If you are serving both vegetarians and omnivores use veggie base and heat the ham separately to serve on the side.

1 comment:

  1. Rose, Have you explored any of the cold soups like Gazpacho? Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, green peppers? All juicified in a food processor? I've only sampled them in restaurants and found them very refreshing on hot days.