Thursday, March 22, 2007

Meatless Split Pea Soup

This is probably the most economical dinner my family has. I figure it makes up for the relatively expensive pizza night! (That's frozen pizza from Sam's club, though.)

This is my method for cooking pea soup when I have an afternoon to work around the house and go back and forth to the kitchen. I have also made pea soup concentrate for my freezer and made the soup from that, or made pea soup in the crockpot. But the following method works better for me than any of the other methods I've tried. (That's better, as in tastier.)

Soak 2 cups split peas (about a half pound) in 12 cups water for several hours in a large pan (I use a Dutch oven). The peas will absorb much of the water as they soak. Add some more water if needed, a little more than enough to cover the peas but not too much; as if you were boiling potatoes. (You can always add more water later, but it's hard to redeem watered-down soup.) Bring almost to a boil, stirring frequently. Simmer.

While the peas are simmering, chop and add 2 cups of a variety of finely diced vegetables of your choice, such as onion, bell pepper, celery, or carrots. Continue to simmer and stir until the peas are tender and the carrots and celery can be cut easily. Mash the peas with a potato masher or a spoon. If soup becomes too thick while you are cooking the vegetables, you can add more water, a little at a time. You will probably need to do so.

Add salt to taste (I start with 3/4 teaspoon). I like to add about 1/4 teaspoon thyme in my pea soup.

Take a look again at the consistency. Dip your spoon in the soup and let it flow off the spoon back into the pot. If you already know and love split pea soup, you will know what consistency you want. If not, my recommendation is to get it as thin as a rich gravy (a rich gravy for potatoes, not a thick gravy for biscuits). But in my opinion, the consistency is definitely a matter of personal taste.

I like to serve split pea soup with biscuits. And for the ones in the family who want meat with their soup, I will sometimes warm and chop a few weiners, and serve them in a bowl like a garnish.

This recipe serves about six people. If you want to make more, you can double the amounts. Good luck and God bless.

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