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©Stephen Kolyer_Pea Soup

 

Most split pea soups have some type of meat as flavoring – ham hock or bone, bacon, ribs – but I almost always keep mine fit for a vegetarian.  Occasionally I might use chicken stock, but as like as not water or vegetable stock will be my choice.  It is such a simple soup to make that a mid-afternoon stint in the kitchen will create a lovely warming dinner on a cold winter’s day.  And, to top it off a bag of split peas – yellow or green – will usually set you back somewhere around a dollar.
There are a myriad of variations to the basic recipe.  You can add almost any herb or spice you like – I opt for curry powder (about 2 teaspoons) and/or a big spoonful of chopped fresh dill.  You can add chopped cooked sausage, ham, or any smoked meat to turn the soup into a hearty meal.  You can chill it and serve with fresh mint and sour cream.  And on it goes – just get the basic down and go from there.

1 pound split green or yellow split peas
    1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
    1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    1 stalk celery, well-washed, trimmed, and chopped
    3 quarts water, vegetable or chicken stock
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Tabasco sauce to taste
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the peas, carrot, onion, and celery in a large saucepan.  Add the water and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil; then, season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco and lower the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring from time to time, for about an hour or until the peas have disintegrated and the soup is thick.  You may have to add more liquid as the soup cooks down.
Remove from the heat and either puree directly in the pan using a hand-held immersion blender or pour the soup into a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade and puree.
Return the soup to a clean saucepan.  Add the lemon juice and taste.  If necessary, season with additional salt, pepper, and Tabasco.  If the soup is very thick, you can thin with stock or heavy cream.  I like to drizzle a little heavy cream or thinned plain yogurt on top before serving or sometimes I add a handful of crisp rye or sour dough croutons.

 

split pea_7253

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Some time ago I did a vegan cookbook proposal for a terrific New Zealand chef, Michael Waffelbaker, which you can view under “Cookbook Ideas.”  In it was a recipe that has become one of Steve’s favorite meals.  I’m not a lover of tofu so I usually make it when I am in diet mode with a large salad for myself.  But, since Steve says it is so delicious, I thought we should share the recipe with all of you.

 

3 heads bok choy

1⅓ pounds shiitake mushrooms

1 cup homemade vegetable stock or canned vegetable broth 

1 tablespoon cornstarch

½ cup light soy sauce 

1 tablespoon light brown sugar 

One 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds extra firm tofu, well-drained and cut into ¾-inch cubes

1 tablespoon sesame oil

3 small hot chiles such as bird or Serrano, stemmed, seeded, and minced or to 

taste

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

 

Wash and dry the bok choy.  Using a sharp knife, cut the root end from each head.  If the leaves are larger than 2-inches wide cut them in half.  Set aside.

Trim the stems from the shiitakes and wipe the mushrooms clean.  (Save the stems for stocks.)  Depending upon their size, cut each one into quarters or halves so that each piece is relatively equal in size.  Set aside.

Combine ½ cup of the stock with the cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve.  Set aside.

Combine the remaining ½ cup of the stock with the soy sauce and brown sugar in a medium large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the ginger and bring to a boil.  Immediately whisk in the reserved cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until thick.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the tofu and fry, turning about every 30 seconds, for about 4 minutes or until golden on all sides.  Using a slotted spatula, transfer the tofu to a double layer of paper towel to drain.

With the sauté pan still on medium-high heat, add the sesame oil.  When hot, add the reserved mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the bok choy, chiles, and garlic and sauté for 1 minute.  Stir in the reserved tofu along with the soy-ginger sauce and cook for about 1 minute or just until blended and hot.

Remove from the heat and spoon equal portions into each of six large, shallow soup bowls.  Serve immediately.

 

 

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