Sure, there’s the cold … the long dark nights … turning on the furnace for the first time … the hibernation.
Yet, for me, it’s when the hearty homemade soup appears on the scene that winter c’est arrivé.
No winter soup arrives before its time. For that timing, I trust my biology, my gut, knowingness, intuition. I trust my bones, my inner farmer’s almanac, the flow of the seasons.
That first pot of a hearty soup — invariably split pea or lentil with a ham bone, the all-important, all-imperative, integral ham bone — announces:
Yes. The corner from autumn into winter is turned.
I eat foods and drink craft ales with the season. That’s what you should know about me. For this post. 🙂
The cold season brings out my inner German hausfrau. Earthy nourishing soups are my strength. Pasta, not at bit! Wasn’t Italian in the last 4 lifetimes, at least!
I do peruse soup recipes online for ideas, inspirations or guidelines for amounts. However, generally I just create by intuition and gut and body needs/cravings.
A couple days ago, the green light went off announcing: “It’s time. You can make the soup now.”
Kinda like being in labor and heading to the hospital only far less painful!
It was 9 o’clock at night. I’d eaten little to nothing all day. I needed food. Good food. And I needed it fast.
I’d planned on using the crockpot.
Then I thought again about my mother.
She and I had a fucking toxic relationship. I’ve tons of issues unresolved. I’ll say that straight out.
AND she was a good cook. One of my fondest memories is her making lentil soup from scratch. With the ham bone. Always the ham bone. I remember her stirring the big pot on the stovetop and lentil soup simmering eternally, seemingly.
I didn’t want leftovers or to freeze half a batch. I get bored eating the same foods, even a yummy soup, after three days.
So my aim: Three Days of Soup. Starting Now.
Now to the meat of the matter.
A. My soups always begin with Better than Bouillon. A genuine chicken stock in a jar. (There’s also a beef.) I could rave forever about the product! I shall n-e-v-e-r return to
bouillon salt cubes.
B. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add a heaping tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon chicken base.
C. Five simple ingredients plus spices. That’s all it took for my Easy-Peasy Split Pea Soup.
1. 1/2 pound of dried split peas. Typically half a bag. Or 1 cup. Note: **Split peas do not need to be soaked.**
2. 2 celery stalks, diced.
3. 2 carrots, diced.
4. 1/2 large white onion, diced. Guesstimate 1 cup. I loooove onion so am generous with the root vegetable. If you’re not, dice to taste.
5. 1 pound ham hocks. Mine were smoked. Use less (or none) to taste.
6. 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper.
Slide all into the pan with 5 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for around 90 minutes.
Check and stir often. Split peas absorb water as they cook and thicken into a paste. So do keep an eye on the water and replenish accordingly. Cook until the peas turn soft. Don’t be mislead into thinking that they’re cooked just because the mixture’s thick.
Some folks prefer pea soup the consistency of white school paste. Not I. I like a slightly-watery thick. So around 2-3 cups of water added intermittently achieved desired consistency.
D. My Easy-Peasy Split Peas-y Soup was infused with a nice hammy smokey salty flavor. So bear that in mind when you add seasonings before cooking.
Normally I slice hock meat into the soup. However, mine were rich in flavor and fat that I decided to instead use them for a second batch. Soon, very soon.
E. Partnered with a grilled cheese, a nourishing and warming supper that’s lickety-split (peas) too!