Do you believe there’s a lot of psychology with respect to the color, texture, and appearance of food? About a decade ago, I was asked to help with a large wedding reception in another state. My job was to stand behind the buffet table heavily laden with brimming serving trays and refill the containers when they were near empty. Since most caterers have an artistic and creative flair, the one preparing this spread was no exception. SCC had cooked up a couple of scrumptious sauces to go along with the two meat entrees and a colorful salad. When it came time to clean up after the bride, groom, and their guests had departed, the two sauces and salad were virtually untouched, despite the fact that they were delicious. Why, you might ask? It was probably because of the overall appearance of the ingredients. So, before you reject this hearty winter soup due to its color ~~ read on!
Sheila’s Split Pea Soup
- 2 cups dried green split peas
- Approximately 8 - 10 cups of water
- 1 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 cup cubed ham, optional
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper, optional
- Carefully sort through the peas to remove small rocks or other debris.
- Rinse peas in a colander.
- In a large saucepan or stockpot combine the peas, water, carrots, celery, onions, ham, bay and thyme leaves.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, skim the top surface if it becomes “frothy”, cover, and summer until peas are tender (which is approximately 3 hours).
- Sheila’s suggestions:
- I usually double this recipe as it freezes well.
- I cook the soup in a crock pot for approximately 4 hours on the high setting as opposed to cooking it in a stockpot on the stove top.
- Using the food processor, I blend the carrots, celery, and onions together to where they are almost to the puree stage before adding them to either my crockpot or stockpot. This seems to help the overall consistency of the soup once it is finished.
- Since I don’t always have a bone-in ham, what I have found to be the easiest and fastest is to purchase an 8 ounce package of the already diced up ham. Some grocery stores carry these handy dandy containers wherein the ham has been cut into about ½ inch cubes or some are about ¼ inch cubes. If you can score the small cubes, they cook up quite nicely in the soup.
The Secret Ingredient:
· The dried thyme leaves really enhance this recipe! Years ago I made a large container of this soup and took to a family engaged in the middle of fall harvest. The husband, who originally could not stand that “gaggy green soup”, could not get enough of it!
Suggested Condiments: (I would suggest experimenting with these to see which ones you might like. I would not use all of them at the same time!!!)
- Diced tomatoes or salsa
- Large dollop of sour cream
- Fresh cilantro
- Seasoned croutons
Achieving the consistency that you might like in this soup might be a fun exercise. My husband likes thick soup, you know, the kind that you could throw against the wall and it would stick. I like it just about the consistency of water. So my goal is the Happy Medium. Works every time!
If you have a variation to this hearty winter soup, please leave a comment below.
Happy Reading & Cooking!