It’s Soup Weather…

It’s Soup Weather…

Well, after a week fighting the flu, I’m mostly back to full strength. Jamie’s a little worse, but it hit her later than it did me. Plus, she just doesn’t get sick much, so she’s entitled. It being a gently drizzly day here in central CA, it’s a good time for hearty, rustic, recovery food. Like soup. So – after promising last week to put up the recipe for split pea soup, then getting ill before I could do it, I offer up the following split-pea / bean soup magic.

First, here’s a good general-purpose bean soup recipe. You can substitute split peas and have a perfectly serviceable split pea soup, too. Mine mainly differs in a few small particulars and it works better for me.

First, for the beans, Jamie has found a really good multi-bean blend at the local supermarket. Multi-bean is highly recommended for a richer taste.

Second, I tend to let the peas or beans soak all night, after a cleaning.

I don’t use a separate batch of chopped ham. After baking a ham (usually one a month), I’ll strip and sort the meat for different uses. The ham hock typically has a fair degree of meat still attached, though difficult to clear (don’t know the technical term for it, but you’ll know it when you strip the ham). I leave that attached, then freeze the ham hock until needed.

When it comes time to cook the soup, I’ll toss in the ham hock, bring it all to a boil, then reduce to medium for about an hour, then down to low. After 2.5-3 hours, the meat that will readily fall off has and I’ll remove the hock. After letting it cool, there’s a great deal of rich tasty dark meat that separates readily using your fingers. I pull that off, stir it into the soup and continue to cook down until it’s rich and thick. I really can’t stand thin soups, so this works well for me.

Now – this is a great deal of soup for a small family, so set some aside in the refrigerator and freeze the rest so that you’ve got a quick, hearty home-made meal when time pressures are a constraint.

It’s good eatin’…