Monday, September 24, 2012

Everyday Split Pea Soup

Common European Oak (Quercus r... Digital ID: 1263333. New York Public Library

Saturday, September 22, 2012 was the first day of Autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as The First Day of Soup Season. (doing a happy dance, because I love a big warm bowl of homemade soup!)

In honor of this first full week of Autumn, I'm posting one of our family's favorite soup recipes, Everyday Split Pea Soup, from one of my most favoritest cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special.

This is an easy soup to prep and cook; if you're cooking for a crowd, it doubles easily - just make sure you're using a really big soup pot (8-10 quarts). I like to add a splash of liquid smoke and 6-8 whole cloves, which kicks up the "smoked ham" flavor a notch or two.

DO make sure the peas are fully cooked before you add the miso - miso is ruined by overheating, so to be on the safe side, I turn off the heat before I add the miso.

ALSO - when adding miso to soup, the best way is to scoop a cup or so of soup/broth into a bowl, and mix miso into that, then add the miso/soup mixture to the main pot of soup - miso is glumpy (one of my favorite technical terms, lol), and might not mix in thoroughly with the split pea soup if just added as a big lump.

I apologize for the lack of pictures - the batch I made this weekend went so fast I didn't have a chance to get the camera out! (I'll add a pic to this post next time we have this soup - don't worry - you won't have long to wait!) Enjoy!

½ ounce dried mushrooms, softened in 1 cup boiling water (I usually use shiitake))**
2 cups dried split peas (1 pound)
8 cups water
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried marjoram
6-8 whole cloves (optional, C.H. addition)
½ tsp. liquid smoke, or to taste (optional, C.H. addition)
2 cups chopped onions
1-1/2 cups peeled and diced carrots
1-1/2 cups chopped celery (include some leafy tops)
2 cups diced potatoes
¼ to 1/3 cup light miso
1 tsp. salt
 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

**To soften mushrooms, place in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, and set aside for about 20 minutes.**

In a large covered soup pot on high heat, combine the split peas, water, bay leaves, marjoram, onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes (and cloves and liquid smoke, if using). When the soup begins to boil, stir well, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook.

Meanwhile, remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid and discard any hard stems. Slice or chop the softened mushrooms and add them to the soup. Strain the soaking liquid to remove any sediment or dirt, and add the clear liquid to the soup pot.

After the soup has simmered for about 30 minutes, stir it well. Maintain on low heat with occasional stirring or place the pot on a heat diffuser to prevent sticking and cook for another 20 minutes, until the split peas are very soft and the soup becomes "creamy" when stirred. Discard the bay leaves (and cloves, if you added them). Stir in 1/4 cup of the miso, the salt, and pepper. Add more miso to taste and serve.

Note: If you plan to serve the soup later, set it aside to cool a bit, and then refrigerate it. Reheat gently before serving, stirring often to prevent scorching.

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