Sunday, January 29, 2012

Split Pea Soup


I'm back!  And I brought soup!  For those of you who've been asking when I was going to post again, thanks for your loyalty to the blog and I apologize for my absence.  For those who didn't notice I had been gone, some friend you are.  (Kidding.)

And so the inhibition-free smorgasbord of culinary delights that is the holiday season is long gone, and we've all had to find a way to be "good" again.  Towards the end of the holidays, I actually got to where I was tired of eating.  I know, I'm as surprised as you are.  Cookies, candy, big, guilt-laden breakfasts.... it all became too much after a while.  My family came here to my house for Christmas, and I made chicken parmigiano one night, chicken cordon bleu another night, we went out to eat a few times, and I made breakfasts consisting of things like an egg-bacon-potato casserole thing with a sausage gravy over the top, homemade doughnuts, french toast and so on and so on.  I feel like I'm getting fatter just reading about all the stuff I cooked.  I guess, other than it just being a new calendar year and time for a fresh start, that's probably why so many people start eating healthy right after New Year's.  If they're anything like me, they reach a point where they are actually craving things like a bowl of oatmeal, or some granola and yogurt instead of pancakes and bacon.

I've been sitting on this recipe for a while; it was actually one of the first things I made to get back in (relatively) healthy mode again once the holidays were over.  There is nothing better than a steaming bowl of hearty, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, unless said comfort food is not just delicious, but healthy.  Good for you and good tasting almost never go together, so let this be one of those happy occasions.  

Fiber, veggies, lean protein - this soup has it all.  And it is infinitely adaptable. I made it with a good, lean ham here, but many of the times I've made it, I used turkey smoked sausage.  You could also use a ham bone if you had one, or, although I've never made it that way, I'm pretty sure it would be great with no meat at all, if you're going for an all-veggie version.  I've made it with green peas and a combination of yellow and green peas.  Both were great.  You can play with the ratios of vegetables endlessly.  Don't like celery?  Leave it out and just put in more carrots or whatever you do like.  Want to try some little cauliflower florets in there?  Yeah, sounds good to me.  Want to leave the skins on the taters?  Sure!  Don't have any chicken broth in your pantry?  Use water and maybe just a pinch more salt.  Trust me, it's still good.  Another added bonus, especially if you're cooking for only 2 people like I am - it freezes beautifully.  I put it into individual serving sizes and freeze it for Marc to take to work for lunch.  When you reheat it, just add a smidgen of water to thin it out a touch and it comes back to life as if you just made it.

It hasn't really felt much like winter yet in Kansas this year, but I don't care because I would eat this soup in the dog days of summer.  Enjoy!

Split Pea Soup

I call for red potatoes because they stand up nicely to the cooking and won't fall apart like russets might.  Yukon gold would also work great, or if you don't care if your potatoes fall apart, then by all means, use a russet if you like.  As I said above, infinitely adaptable.

1 lb. lean ham, cut into cubes
5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large celery rib, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 small or 1/2 a large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 small red potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup)
1 lb. split peas
4 c. low sodium chicken broth (32 oz. box)
3 c. water
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves

Throw all the stuff into a pot and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer gently for about an hour and a half or until the peas are cooked through and some are beginning to break down.  Remove bay leaves and serve.

It was really hard to get a good picture of this as a finished product.  To be honest, it's just not that pretty.  That's why I put the far more attractive image of the uncooked ingredients up at the top.  But just in case you still want to see it, here is a finished bowl.  But don't take my camera's word for it, make you own and just see how good it looks when it's sitting right in front of you.  :)

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