Friday, November 03, 2006

Split pea soup

I love pea soup. It's something my Mom used to make quite often when I was a kid, it's a kind of French-Canadian staple. I've often had canned pea soup and its often quite good too, especially the Habitant brand. So, I decided to make it for myself. And as is quite common in these sorts of projects, I was inspired by watching Michael Smith on Chef at Home make his version of speedy split pea soup. The recipe below is very closely patterned on Smith's.
Speedy Split Pea Soup with Bacon

Make 6-8 main dish servings

1 lb package bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, washed and chopped
3 or 4 cloves garlic, peeled sliced thinly
2 cups dried split peas
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water, in any combination. Use low sodium stock if possible
2 bay leaves
1 dried rosemary
2 cups frozen peas
1 tbsp of any vinegar
1 ham bone (optional)

1. Place bacon in a large soup pot over a medium high heat. When the bacon is brown and crispy drain away nearly all the fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pot.
2. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot and sauté for a few minutes.
3. Add the dried peas, stock, ham bone, bay leaves, rosemary and pepper.
4. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until the soup is thick and the peas are completely soft, about 1-1.5 hours
5. Stir in frozen peas and stir to heat through.
6. Stir in the vinegar and adjust seasoning to taste. The bacon and stock are already quite salty, so you probably don't need to add any more.
How would I do this one differently next time? Well, I was just lucky to have a ham bone around to simmer with the soup, so that's likely to change. Also, I'm not a huge bacon fan so I might switch to 1/2 a pound of bacon and 1/2 pound of cooked ham. Ham is more traditionally French-Canadian in this recipe anyway. I didn't check any of my traditional French-Canadian cookbooks before starting, so I might do that as well to see if I can get any ideas.

BTW, this one was a real winner, a huge hit with the family last night.

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