Sunday, February 8, 2009

On Cold Days, Being Sick and Hot Soup

If you're my friend on Facebook or "follow" me on twitter you'll know I have been sick a lot this winter. Sick more than I care to mention. Really sick. And I have to say, I'm quite sick of being sick.

It has also been damn cold this winter. I know I really shouldn't complain (but if you know me in real life you know I'm a champion complainer). My mystery illness paired with bad weather are hardly great calamities in the grand scheme of things. And, I managed to make lemonade with the lemons I was given. How unlike me.

Cold weather + being sick + not really wanting to cook = a lot of soup

Super Easy Peas Soup with Bacon (sorry Mom!)
Yields approximately 2 quarts of soup (that's 8 cups for those of you not so quick on the cooking math)

4 slices bacon, chopped
2 leeks, mostly whites, cleaned and roughly chopped (you can just double up on the onions if you don't have any leeks - I just had a few in the fridge the first time I made this and now I love them in most vegetable based soups)
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, cleaned and roughly chopped (noticing a trend?)
1 large carrot or 4-5 "baby" carrots, yes, roughly chopped (it's all being pureed later so no need for nice even pieces, approximately the same size is just fine for all the "roughly chopped" items - that's why I love making pureed soups)
1 bay leaf
a few sprigs of fresh dill (tied together with kitchen twine - dental floss will do just make sure it isn't waxed or mint flavored. While mint and fresh peas go very nicely together split peas and fake mint "flavoring" do not. Take my word on this. Ordinarily I wouldn't bother tying it but some people (by some people I mean 5 year old daughters) don't like dill floating around in their soup)
2 cups dried split peas (sort through to remove any small pebbles or other foreign objects)
7 cups water (or unsalted chicken or vegetable stock or a mixture of any of these liquids)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Render the bacon in a pot large enough to accommodate the entire recipe (at least 3 1/2 quarts).
  • While the bacon is cooking, roughly chop all your vegetables if you haven't already.
  • Once the bacon is brown and crisp, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add in the leeks and onions to the bacon fat (lower the heat if it's too hot). You want to get a little color on the onions and leeks so they start to release their natural sugars.
  • Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant (about one minute).
  • Add in the carrots and celery and adjust seasoning.
  • Add in the bay leaf and dill.
  • Add in the peas and 7 cups of water/stock/whatever.
  • Bring to a boil, taste and adjust seasoning, cover and reduce to a simmer.
  • Cook, at a simmer, for approximately one hour.
  • Remove the dill and bay leaf.
  • Puree the soup. I like to use an immersion blender directly in the pot - much easier than transferring the whole mess to a blender
  • Garnish with the cooked bacon and some finely chopped fresh dill and some croutons if you'd like. I also like to drizzle on some lemon infused olive oil.
Serve with some crusty bread, good cheese and a mixed green salad. That's optional but it's what I do. And don't you want to do what I do?

You can't mess this soup up. I promise. No celery? Leave it out. Don't like dill? Leave it out. Basically you need some aromatics (onions and garlic are must-haves), salt, pepper, split peas and some sort of liquid. My 5 year old could make this if I let her use the stove by herself. Now - everybody into the kitchen and make some soup.

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