Fog as thick as…

The other morning we woke up and looked outside and saw a rare sight for us – fog.  Which, of course, made me think of pea soup.  As it was a coolish day, in addition to being unusually wet, I made a big pot of curried split pea and barley.  It was as thick as a Sherlock Holmes-esque London fog but a hell of a lot tastier. 

Foggy Day Split Pea Soup

  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • lots of water
  • 2 small or 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 large stalks celery
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 2-3 tsp curry powder, or more to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by putting the split peas and barley in a large pot and covering them with several inches of water.  Cover, bring to a boil then turn the heat off and allow to quick soak for at least half an hour, up to an hour.  Drain off the soaking water, rinse out the pot, and put the peas and barley back into the pot.  Add 10-12 cups of water then bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat and cook, covered, until split peas are soft.  This will take a couple of hours.  When the peas are soft puree half the soup in a blender then put back into the pot.  Cut the onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes into small dice and add to the pot.  Cook the soup at a simmer, stirring to make sure it doesn’t stick, for an hour.  If it seems too thick, as if too much water has evaporated, add a little boiling water as it cooks.  Add the curry powder and cook until the vegetables are soft.  Adjust flavor with salt and pepper.  If you add more curry powder at this point if you like then cook another 15 minutes to incorporate.  This soup is good the first day and even better the second day.  Make sure to heat slowly so it doesn’t stick and burn.  You can thin with a little water when reheating.

Stormy Weather

As I write this the Ella Fitzgerald version of the song Stormy Weather is running through my head. Look it up, listen as you cook this dish. Especially if the weather has taken a turn for the cool or rainy, as it has here, where you are.  Serve this dish with mashed potatoes, rice, egg noodles, something on which to lavish the rich sauce.  Enjoy.

Stormy Weather aka Flanken and Red Lentils

  • 1-2 lbs flanken
  • 1 Tbs smoked paprika
  • 2 onions (white or yellow)
  • 2 large stalks celery
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • salt and pepper to taste

Peel the onions and slice them.  Slice the celery.  Peel garlic and cut into large chunks.  Open the can of tomatoes.  Assemble all other ingredients.  Heat a Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a fitting lid on a burner over medium high heat until hot.  Put flanken in a single layer in the pan and sear.  Turn meat once, browning it on both sides, then remove to a plate.  Lower the heat on the burner slightly then add the onions, celery, and paprika to the pan.  Cook a couple of minutes, stirring a few times then add the garlic, tomatoes, wine, and water.  Add in the lentils and put the flanken back in the pot with everything else.  Stir once to fully mix then bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer, cover and allow to cook for at least 2 hours, stirring once in a while.  The heat should be on pretty low – no more than medium low.  When you are almost ready to serve (the meat should be very tender and the lentils should be soft) remove lid and cook on higher heat for 5 minutes.  Taste, adjust flavor with salt and pepper as needed.  Serve hot.  This also makes great leftovers.  Listen to old blues, drink a glass of red wine, watch the rain.