I finally found some time to cook for the week. I love making soups. They are relatively simple to make and can be stored very conveniently. I used to eat lunch out everyday at work which was expensive. Recently (a few years ago) I started looking for a way to save money on food so I started cooking at home and bringing food to work. I also noticed how much healthier my diet became. This is basically how I got really interested in cooking and shortly after I started this blog. Here is one of my all time favorite soups to make/eat, along with lentil soup. Split Pea Soup, cooked in a stock made with smoked ham hocks which are the fatty, gelatinous “knuckles” located at the extreme shank end of the leg bone and the associated skin, fat, tendons, and bit of muscle. Pretty flavorful stuff! Still here…? Let’s do this!:
1 pound of dry split peas
2 smoked ham hocks
1/2 an onion
1 medium carrot
some thyme sprigs
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
about 20 parsley leaves
a bit of cream, about 1/4 of a cup
Baby basil leaves and parsley leaves
olive oil and sherry wine vinegar drops
This soups is very easy to make. I use my pressure cooker to make the stock that will eventually be used to cook the peas in. For the stock, place the stock ingredients in the pressure cooker and cover with just enough water. I don’t bother chopping anything, but you can if you like, just chop the stuff really coarsely though. Pressure cook at 15psi for 2 hours. Depressurize cooker and remove solids. You can discard all the solids using a strainer. The flavor has been extracted by now and it’s all in that rich stock. I also degrease the stock, using a spoon, I remove most of the fat sitting at the top of the pyrex beaker (I strained the stock into that so I could see the layer of fat and how deep it was). Return the stock to the pressure cooker and add the peas. You could soak the peas before cooking, overnight for example. This will speed up their cooking quite a bit but they won’t absorb as much stock since they have already absorbed water, but this is ok, we’re gonna blend the final soup anyway, so this doesn’t really matter that much. Even without soaking, dry peas will cook in about 30 minutes without pressure cooking them, and about 10 if doing so. Skim off any impurities that raise to the top. That foamy gritty stuff that looks like soap has should be removed as much as possible but don’t lose sleep over it. One final note here. I didn’t use pressure, just the cooker vessel so there is less stuff to clean in the end. I do anything in my power to reduce the number of gear I need to make anything. It is less mess in the end, and easier to clean as you go!
Use a blender or an immersion blender (which I really prefer, it is a lot easier to clean and no risk of a split pea soup eruption when not using the blender carefully) Add the cream and the parsley leaves. You could add a couple of basil leaves as well. Blend until silky smooth and you can see the little green specs of parsley and basil finely chopped. Add water if soup is too thick or cook a little longer to reduce the water content. Adjust final seasoning. Plate, add the garnishes and done! This is a simple soup that delivers great flavor!