December 30, 2009

Lazy Girl Split Pea Soup

We've had lots of lovely meals lately - Christmas Eve tamales and a huge Christmas ham. Since then, we've been eating pretty simple food. Yesterday, my girls and I had a lazy day at home and I made homemade split pea soup in the crock pot. I don't use my crock pot much because it has a tendency to make sort of soggy food which I don't really like - but it's perfect for soup that needs to cook a while - especially when I'm too lazy to watch it!

I pre-soak split peas because it helps to make them (all legumes, really) more digestible. Plus, it reduces cooking time! Soaking is a very simple process. Simply cover the legumes with filtered water by a few inches and add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Leave them on the counter overnight and rinse a few times before using the next day. I try to prepare two batches of beans at once so I am prepared for a few meals. Try being the operative word.

Split Pea Soup
**As a former teacher of mine used to say - "Read All the directions before starting!"
1 ham bone, optional (I got mine from my mother-in-law's Christmas ham - and it still had meat on it)
2 cups soaked split peas
1 whole onion
5 or 6 medium carrots
3 o 4 stocks of celery
2 bay leaves (optional)
Sea Salt to taste (not till the end or your beans will be tough!)
4 cups filtered water*
*If you don't use a ham bone, you might want to use chicken stock instead of water. 

1. Mince the onion, carrots and celery and throw them in the crock pot. Traditionally I would sweat the veggies in a pan with some butter or bacon fat first (YES, I said bacon fat!) but this is a LAZY recipe so I just threw it in the pot. Incidentally, these three ingredients are pretty much the basis for most great soups.

2. Add the ham bone and split peas

3. Cover the whole thing with filtered water by a few inches. I didn't actually measure it but it should be at least twice as much as the amount of peas you add. So, 2 cups peas = minimum 4 cups water.

4. Turn the crock pot on high and cook for 5 or 6 hours. If you have more time, you can place it on low for longer. But, like I said, it was a lazy day so I didn't start my recipe till about 2 pm.

5. AFTER the split peas are cooked (they'll be soft and squishy), carefully scoop the veggies and peas out of  the pot and puree it a bit at a time in the blender.

6. After all the flavors are thoroughly blended, add salt to taste - a little at a time. Don't be stingy. Soup tastes bad a lot of times because it's not salted enough. We only use Sea Salt at our house - not that iodized stuff, despite the fact that my father was one of the first Morton Salt sales people in AZ. "When it rains, it pours!"

7. Be sure to take the rest of the meat off the ham bone!

Serve as is or with a little sour cream or plain yogurt on top.We also ate hot biscuits with our soup.

As a testament to how lazy I was yesterday, I rinsed the adzuki beans I soaked the night before and threw them in the leftover water from the peas. The water was already flavored by the carrots, celery and onion. We'll eat that tonight. Like I said, LAZY...

The picture at the top of the page is what my girls and I enjoyed together because I wasn't standing in the kitchen cooking!

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