Saturday, March 5, 2011

Easy Peasy


Tonight is my big date night out, but I found time to break away from baby baths, picking the perfect outfit, hair, make-up and packing up the entire house for a few hours out, to blog! 

Today, a recipe:  I’ve been completely vegetable deprived for weeks now due to a very hectic schedule.  I’m the type of person that gets all caught up in what I’m doing and certain things fall absolute first and absolute last on my personal to do list.  I never start a day without at least one cup of really good coffee and from there, it’s touchy.  I’ll forget to eat anything all day and will ward off passing out with a few handfuls of shredded cheese.

For something super-fast to heat and eat that is packed with nutrition, I’ve been stuffing myself with split pea soup for two weeks.  I literally made my third pot yesterday.  It is the cheapest, easiest soup to make, completely fool proof and it is SO GOOD!  For anyone who might be gagging you should know, it has the flavor and consistency of a pork and bean stew.  Proof: I forced my picky husband to try it and my soup passed the test.  He said it is delicious!

I have about six variations of the recipe that range from vegan to vegetarian to made with meat.  For starters, there are two kinds of split peas; yellow and green.  From what I’ve researched, the nutrition values are exactly the same.  Green says healthy and more iron to me, but apparently that’s not the case.  For some reason a lot of places will have one or the other type, so grab what they’ve got.  They range from a dollar and some change to just under $2.50 for organic or with a pork flavor packet included.


What you’ll need for the traditional version:

16 ounce bag dried split green or yellow peas
8-10 cups water
1 medium size onion
1 medium size carrot
1 medium size stalk of celery
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons of bouillon (2 cubes) or a 1 pound ham bone
Salt to taste (optional and added after soup is done cooking)

Pea Soak:
Sift through your dried peas for any rocks or debris.  There are two methods for soaking your peas.  For a quick soak, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your 16 ounces of split peas.  Simmer them for 2 minutes, then cover them and set them aside for 1 hour.  The second method that I prefer, is an overnight soak.  I only prefer it because I’m always concerned about cooking out and draining the nutrients of the peas during a quick soak.  Cover your peas with a few inches of water, put a lid on the pot and set it aside for at least 8 hours.  I usually do this before I go to sleep and they are ready to cook in the morning.   


Directions:
Drain your soaked peas and set aside.  Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add your peas.  Bring back to a boil then reduce heat to medium low for a gentle simmer.  Add your diced onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and bouillon or ham bone.  Cover with the lid slightly cracked and simmer for 2 hours.  If the water level on your soup gets low, add another cup or however much is needed.  Cool a small spoonful of soup and test for saltiness.  I always add salt last because it is a common cook trap.  Too little salt can always be fixed, too much is a done deal.  If using a ham bone you may not need to add anything at all.  If salt is needed add 1 teaspoon at a time, stir really well and taste test again until you achieve your desired salt level.  I typically end up adding 2 teaspoons to a full tablespoon for a vegetarian or vegan style soup, 1 teaspoon in a ham bone recipe for hubby.   

Serving Suggestions:
Serve alone or top with croutons, diced scallions, a dollop of sour cream, sprinkle with extra diced ham or bacon and/or serve with buttered bread. 

There you have it; an amazing, huge pot of healthy soup, made by you, from scratch for less than $10.  My compliments to the chef!  Enjoy!