Pea soup discovery

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Pea soup discovery

Postby Jenise » Sun May 19, 2013 1:53 pm

After days of complicated cooking, last night I just wanted to coddle myself with soup and salad so I selected some split peas from the legume basket and put them on the stove to cook in liquid that was 1/2 and 1/2 water and chicken broth plus bay leaves, thyme, herbes de Provence, black pepper and garlic. That's it, my favorite almost-vegan version, though I'll also add salt at the finish. I started this around 3:30. Typically the peas will be cooked and tender enough for an immersion blender to puree at around one hour to one hour fifteen, but yesterday I got distracted and didn't tend to them until around one hour forty-five, at which point all the liquid was gone but no scorching had yet taken place, thank god. I added more of everything to thin and re-season, and left the pot on the stove to cook a little longer on the lowest setting possible for, I figured, another half hour. The peas were well-cooked, but the added seasonings needed to meld in. Well, more distractions popped up, and it was 7:00 before I got back to it with the immersion blender, plans to consume imminent, and concerns about overcooking.

Until that moment, I had never left split peas on the stove long enough to wonder if they could be overcooked. Well-cooked occurs early on, in less time than most legumes, so without sugars or dairy products to trigger some other reaction, over-reduction or scorching from same would have been my only concerns. But heck, I didn't really know.

Well, here's the news: I don't think I'll ever cook a pot of split peas under three hours again. Yes, UNDER. That extra almost-two hours resulted in even deeper flavors than what I thought very complete and totally desirable in half the time, and that alone would be worth the extra cooking, but oh my god the texture! It was an ethereal liquid velvet, still soup but thickened in a round puffy way like when you fold whipped cream into something. My split pea soup was always perfectly smooth, but it wasn't THIS.
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Re: Pea soup discovery

Postby Frank Deis » Sun May 19, 2013 2:59 pm

I'm convinced -- plus I think this might relate in some way to the discussion of over-cooking green beans.

One pea soup I have made repeatedly is from a recipe by Daniel Boulud -- to broaden the flavor he puts in a variety of peas including sugar snaps and snow peas, with the shells. Because everything is pureed it doesn't really matter. Of course his also has some bacon etc.

I discovered it when we were at one of his restaurants and the server overturned a glass of water. They brought out 2 bowls of spring pea soup as an apology, and I considered it a revelation. And that's why I bought the Cafe Boulud cookbook.
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Re: Pea soup discovery

Postby Howie Hart » Sun May 19, 2013 4:03 pm

I make split pea soup with either a leftover meaty ham bone or smoked turkey carcass, and use onions, carrots and celery - no seasonings, other than S&P. But I always cook it over very low heat for 3 hours or so. Like spaghetti sauce, it always seems better the next day.
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Re: Pea soup discovery

Postby Jason Hagen » Mon May 20, 2013 8:55 pm

Yum.

And I think I am going to do the Daniel Boulud version ... although I might be skipping hot soup for the next 5 months ... being in SoCal and all.

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Re: Pea soup discovery

Postby Karen/NoCA » Mon May 20, 2013 9:39 pm

Interesting Jenise. My first attempt at using dried split peas was a bummer. I make a fresh mint and pea soup that is a killer. Will have to give that method a whirl since I do have two ham hocks in the freezer...I could use one for the soup. Plus I have some dried spit peas in my fridge. We like to keep home made soups in the freezer for lunches, when needed.
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Re: Pea soup discovery

Postby Jenise » Tue May 21, 2013 3:19 am

Karen/NoCA wrote:I do have two ham hocks in the freezer...I could use one for the soup. Plus I have some dried spit peas in my fridge. We like to keep home made soups in the freezer for lunches, when needed.


Pea soup with ham is classic, and it's what most people prefer but that's also largely based, I tend to think, on our culture's belief that meat makes EVERYTHING better. I don't agree. Made with ham, the soup seems to be about the ham. Without, it's about the peas and the herbs. I would personally urge anyone who doesn't have the built-in bias for ham to consider making it the other way first. I don't have an exact recipe to offer, but for 1.5 pounds of peas, I estimate I used about 1.5 quarts water, 1.5 quarts chicken stock, five fresh bay leaves, two garlic cloves, two teaspoons herbes de Provence, one teaspoon dried thyme (fresh would be as good), lots of ground black pepper and Lawry's seasoning salt. That's very approximate, but it will get you in the zone. A final adjustment in seasoning toward the end of cooking is highly reccomended.
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Re: Pea soup discovery

Postby Jenise » Tue May 21, 2013 3:20 am

Jason Hagen wrote:Yum.

And I think I am going to do the Daniel Boulud version


I once had a thick version of that served under a piece of halibut that was wrapped in thin potato slices and then fried. A few morels were also on the plate. Earthy nirvana, that!
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Re: Pea soup discovery

Postby Karen/NoCA » Tue May 21, 2013 12:00 pm

I tend to think, on our culture's belief that meat makes EVERYTHING better. I don't agree.

I completely agree, meat does NOT make everything taste better. I think each should shine on it's own, be well prepared, and full of flavor. It's the way I roll with food.
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