Quite often we’ll have a bowl of soup and a salad for dinner. We love soup and, in fact, this recipe will be the ninth soup I’ve posted since I began My Carolina Kitchen a little over two years ago. Here’s a link to some of our favorites. You might remember that sometimes we like to pass soup in little demitasse cups from a silver tray as an appetizer when we’re having a dinner party. It makes an elegant starter with a glass of wine or champagne and guests are pleasantly surprised by it.
I was talking to a good friend on the phone one day and happened to mention to her that we were having soup and a salad for dinner. “Oh, I could never do that,” she said. “Bob doesn’t consider soup to be a dinner.” Which brings me to the question - do you consider soup to be a dinner? I’d love to know what you think.
I believe I’ve found a couple of secrets to making a really good soup. It’s how you sauté the vegetables. My mother used to throw the vegetables in without browning them first. While there’s nothing wrong with that and it does save a bit of time, if you brown the vegetables first your soup will have a much richer flavor. The second secret is to add the herbs and a little bit of tomato paste to the vegetables at the end of the browning stage. Here’s what I do. I start the vegetables on high heat, then quickly switch to low, season with salt and pepper, and cook them slowly until they are nice and brown, taking care that they not burn. Then I add the herbs I’m using (thyme and fresh rosemary are my favorites) and a little tomato paste and cook the vegetables for a few more minutes until the tomato paste is blended in and begins to brown.
As I write this I so wish we were in Provence right now where I could pop over and buy a crusty baguette from this cute French guy at the farmer’s market. A girl can dream, can’t she?
|Market day in Saint Remy-de-Provence, France|
Split Pea Soup
From My Carolina Kitchen
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 sprigs parsley, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 whole carrots, scraped & diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good pinch of dried thyme and chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon tomato paste
12-oz package of green split peas
6 cups liquid (4 beef broth and 2 water)
1 bay leaf
Browned small chunks of ham for garnish (optional)
Brown the vegetables in a non-stick skillet in the olive oil about fifteen minutes or until well softened and have taken on a golden hue. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Start the vegetables off on high heat and quickly turn the heat to very low, stirring frequently. After the vegetables have browned, add the dried thyme, chopped fresh rosemary, and the tomato paste and stir well. Cook a few minutes more until the tomato paste gets incorporated into the aromatics.
In the meantime put the peas (it’s not necessary to soak split peas prior to cooking) and the broth and water into a large stockpot. After the vegetables have browned, add them the peas along with a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover and cook 1 – 1 ½ hours or until peas are tender. Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup with a wand mixer or in a blender. Add more liquid if necessary and check for seasonings. Garnish with small chunks of browned ham if desired and some crusty French bread.
Sauté onion and carrots over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Add a chopped clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika, a bay leaf, and freshly ground black pepper; cook three minutes. Add tomato paste and 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce. Before serving soup, combine 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, and some chopped fresh parsley. Stir mixture into the soup. Spoon soup into individual serving bowls and top with about a tablespoon of sour cream per serving.