Sunday, November 04, 2007

Split Pea Soup with Barley

I love split pea soup. I’ve never made it, though because I lack one key ingredient: a ham bone. I live alone. I never have occasion to make a whole ham so that I would have a ham bone available for soup.

When I came across this recipe which uses cooked ham, the proverbial light bulb went off over my head. Ham steaks! My local grocery store often has specials on ham steaks. I buy them and chop them up for use in recipes that call for cooked ham.

I liked the idea of barley in this soup because I thought it would make it more filling. All the veggies also made it attractive. I’m not good about eating veggies unless they are raw, steamed, stir-fried or part of a soup or stew.

I should have picked up on two problems right away. This recipe calls for yellow split peas instead of the usual green ones and also lacks seasonings other than a bay leaf and salt and pepper. I forged ahead.

I made a couple of changes. I used a bouillon cube instead of instant granules because that’s what I have in the house. I also didn’t add any salt to it. I thought that the ham would be salty enough. And mindful of the minestrone soup disaster, I doubled the cooking time for each step.

This soup lacks the usual “pea” taste perhaps because it uses yellow instead of green peas. It also lacks taste although it was tastier the second day than the first. It definitely needs more seasonings. And it’s a good thing that I extended the cooking time. Not only were the veggies tender, but the barley and the peas didn’t really cook through until nearly the end. If I had used their times, I would have had raw veggies and hard peas and barley.

Verdict: What were they thinking???

Split Pea Soup with Barley
(Source: Better Homes and Gardens, November 2007)

10 cups water
1 lb. dry yellow split peas, rinsed and drained (about 2 cups)
½ cup regular barley
2 tbsp. instant chicken bouillon granules
1 bay leaf
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
5 ounces cooked ham, chopped (1 cup)
½ tsp. ground black pepper
Salt and ground black pepper

In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven or pot bring water, split peas, barley, bouillon granules, and bay leaf to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir in celery, carrots, and onion; return to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes more or until vegetables, peas, and barley are tender.

Stir in ham and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes more or until ham is heated through. Remove and discard bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and additional pepper.

Makes 8 (1 ½-cup) servings.

Compost: celery leaves, carrot and onion skins

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