Sunday, February 13, 2011

Give Peas a chance!

   I love split pea soup.  Real homemade split pea soup. I rarely order it in a restaurant, or get it anywhere other than my own kitchen, because its never remotely as good as home made.  The best part is that it is ridiculously easy.  When I was younger I would ask my mother to buy a ham for dinner because I knew that meant that later that week my grandmother would take the ham bone and use it to make pea soup.  The soup can easily be made without a ham bone, but you get a little better flavor from using the bone.

My Grandmere's Split Pea soup
serves ? I eat more than my fair share, but id guess about 6

1 ham bone (optional but awesome)*
about a cup or so of ham cut into small chunks
1 small-medium onion
1 medium carrot
2 cups dried green split peas
6 cups water

   Start off by cutting and off most of the meat off the ham bone.  Just whatever you can cut off with a knife, there should be a little meat left on the bone.

 Cube or cut into small chunks a little over a cup of the ham, more or less depending on how much meat you want in your soup.  Set the ham aside.  *If your not using a ham bone, you going to use a ham steak.  Deli ham is not okay.  Your going to want to look for a ham steak with a bone in it, but if you cant find one just try to find a ham steak that looks as un-messed with as possible.  The less messed with the ham is, the better the texture will be. I'll say it again, Deli ham is not okay.  Next up you want to dice your onion and carrot.  This is a good time to work on your knife skills.  Take your time and dice them into little cubes.  They don't have to be perfect, and you could even just get them to a small rough chop, but its always good to work on your knife skills.  Sort through your dried peas, making sure that everything in there is a pea and not a rock or other debris.  Give them a nice rinse and drain.

  Put your ham bone (*or 1/4 of your ham steak) in a large stock pot or your largest pan.  Add your onion, carrots and peas to the pot and then about 6 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the peas and carrots are mushy.  At this point, turn off the heat and remove the ham bone to a cutting board.  Allow the bone to cool down for a bit and then pick any meat remaining off of the bone and set aside with the ham.  *If not using a ham bone, turn off heat and attempt to fish out as much of the ham as you can using a slotted spoon.  Its not the end of the world if you cant get all of it or any of it, but we are going to process the soup next so whatever ham remains in the soup will be processed too.  There are a few options for processing the soup at this point.  My grandmother used a standard bar blender and that worked pretty well for her.  I personally opt for my stick blender.  Stick blenders are awesome, and I recommend them to every one, you just have to be careful when using it or you might accidentally splatter soup everywhere.  If looking for a stick blender avoid the very inexpensive off-brand kind you will find at the drug store.  They have no power and simply are a waste of money.  Another option is to use a food processor for your soup, however one of those tiny food processors you use to make salsa and pesto probably isn't your best option.  The tiny 1-2 cup capacity will take forever and probably make a mess.  The 4th option is to use a food mill if you have one or push through a fine mesh strainer.  After processing return the soup to the stove and add your ham.  Adjust the consistency at this point.  If it seems too thick, add some water and bring to a serving temperature.  If its too thin than bring your soup to a boil and simmer down the soup until it is thicker.  Be sure to scrape the sides of the pot and stir often.  At this point you want to find the nearest bowl and spoon and dive in.  You will probably not wish to be disturbed for this first bowl, I know i never do.  It may not look like much, but it is delicious.

   As it cools down it tends to get a bit solid, just heat it back up, remembering to stir often, and it will be smooth and wonderful again.  I think the soup would also be good done vegetarian with no meat or bone interaction at all, but I've never tried it, so I will have to get back to you on that.

Wine day 10:  The wine has moved from the Primary fermentation carboy to the secondary fermentation carboy which is a large 6 gallon glass bottle with a narrow neck that looks very much like the bottle from a water cooler.  The wine will stay in there for at least another 24 days.  In 10 days we will "whip" the wine, which I will explain more about when we get to that point.  For now it just gets to hang out in my spare bedroom.

Until next time!

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