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.

Vegetable Borscht, All The Way

Did you ever see that wonderfully funny mock-u-mentary Best In Show?  One of the best lines is when the young woman is explaining what she has in common with her old man husband.  “We both like soup,” she says.  It’s funny because we all know that *that’s* not a reasonable basis for a happy marriage.  And yet…it kind of is.  Well, it is a simplistic way of saying that similar tastes help in successful relationships.  I think my grandparents were married to each other for over 65 years because they both liked soup.  Thankfully, so do Jim and I.  Here’s a recipe for the one we had this weekend.  The All The Way refers to it having noodles, matzah balls, rice, and beans.  Eat soup with your sweetheart and go all the way, it might indeed be the basis for a long life together.

Vegetable Borscht, All The Way

  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 small or 1 large carrot
  • 2 small or one large onion
  • 1 medium beet
  • 1/4 small head purple cabbage
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked white beans (great northern or cannellini)
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups cooked fine egg noodles
  • 1 batch herbed matzah balls (recipe below)

Peel or scrub carrots and cut into rings, half rings, or quarter rings depending on size.  Trim and cut celery into thin full or half slices so they match the carrots in size.  Peel and cut beet into small bites.  Chop and finely shred the cabbage.  Peel, cut and slice the onions.  All the vegetables should be the same general size.  Peel and slice the garlic.  Put all the vegetables, the rice, the cooked beans, and 12 cups of water into a large soup pot.  Cook at a low boil, covered, until the rice is cooked and the vegetables are soft.  Zest then juice the lemon and add both the zest and the juice to the soup.  Cook for at least 15 minutes.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Serve hot – ladle soup into bowls with noodles and matzah balls already in them. 

To make the matzah balls:  in a bowl beat 2 eggs with a fork.  Beat in 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup oil.  Then stir in 1/2 cup matzah meal, 1 Tbs dried dill, 1 Tbs cut chives, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1/2 tsp baking soda.  Mix well then allow to sit for at least half an hour in the fridge.  When you are ready to cook them, bring a pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, form the mix into little balls – you should get 20 from this much.  Carefully drop the balls into the boiling water.  Reduce heat to a low boil, cover pot, and cook balls for 20 minutes.  Drain the balls and set aside until you are ready to serve them in soup.

Hearty Pot Roast Soup

If you want to make a dish that is soupier than pot roast and has more veggies than brisket and is heartier than plain soup and uses a small amount of very flavorful beef and is great with garlic bread or any other side and is a one pot dinner here is a recipe for you.  This is delicious, easy to make, can be thrown in the Crock-pot in the morning or cooked on the stove top starting in the afternoon and be ready for a warming and hearty dinner in the evening.  The pieces are large, this isn’t a delicate dish.  You will need to serve with a fork and knife as well as the spoon.  It is good the first night and good as a leftover.  But don’t freeze it, the potatoes will get a horrid texture.  Enjoy.

Hearty Pot Roast Soup  (the amount of veggies are a guideline, add more of what you like and leave out what you don’t like)

  • 1 lb pot roast or brisket meat
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  •  4-5 small or 2 large potatoes
  • 1 zucchini
  • (1 cup chunked winter squash)
  • (1 cup frozen corn)
  • (1 cup frozen peas)
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 large can small diced tomatoes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the raw meat into 2-bite size chunks.  Put in a large pot or your Crock-pot.  Peel, quarter, and slice the onion.  Peel (or scrub) the carrots and chop into bite-sized chunks.  Ditto with the celery and the zucchini.  Peel the potatoes and cut into 2-bite size chunks.  Peel the garlic and cut each clove into 3-4 chunks.  Put all the veggies (except the peas) into the pot with the meat.  Add the canned tomatoes and a can full of water.  Grind a good amount of fresh black pepper into the pot.  Stir it well then cook.  In a Crock-pot cook on high for at least 6 hours.  In a pot on the stove it will take only 2-3 hours until the meat is tender enough.  15 minutes before eating stir in the peas and check the soup for salt.  Add salt and more pepper as needed.

Soup’s On!

So far, here on the Front Range of Colorado, we’ve had very few shivery cold moments this fall.  But they are a-comin’.  And as the evenings draw in earlier and the night chill sets in around dinner time soup is on my mind.  Here is a very easy and very delicious soup you can make without much advance planning and can vary to your own taste and what’s in your fridge.  Enjoy.

Italian Spinach Egg Drop Soup

  • ½ lb small cut pasta
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5-6 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra parmesan for passing
  • lemon wedges

Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, drain, cool, and set aside.  Chop garlic and then heat in broth until boiling.  Add pasta and spinach, cook until spinach is wilted, 3-4 minutes.  Beat the eggs then drizzle into the boiling soup.  Use a fork to break up large strands of egg.  Cook another 5 minutes then add the pasta, stir in the cheese, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve hot with extra cheese and lemon wedges on the side.  This is great with a crusty loaf of bread for dipping.

Variations:  You can use chicken stock and add small pieces of cooked chicken.  You can also add 1 cup cooked cannellini beans (small white beans) when you add the pasta and spinach.  You can use cooked tortellini instead of plain pasta.  You can make it spicy with some red chili flakes added with the garlic.  Be creative, mangia.

Fish Chowder with Green Butter Dumplings

Not much preamble here, just good, hearty soup.

Fish Chowder with Green Butter Dumplings

for the chowder:

  • 1 lb cod
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 1 large or 2 small onions
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 cups corn kernels, I use white and yellow frozen
  • 2 small or 1 large carrot
  • 1 large stalk celery
  • (1/4 cup fresh fennel bulb, this is optional but is very nice in the soup)
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

for dumplings:

  • 1 egg
  • 5 Tbs flour
  • 2 Tbs butter, very soft but not melted
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 small dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped or shredded greens (you can use spinach, beet greens, chard, even parsley)

Peel and chop the onion into small pieces; trim and cut the potatoes into small pieces (you can use them skin-on if the skin is good); halve then thinly slice the garlic; cut the cod into chunks; peel or scrub the carrot then cut into thin half moons; wash and chop the celery into small pieces; chop the fennel into small pieces.  Put all of this into a large soup pot with the corn and the water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook at a slow boil for about an hour.  While this is cooking, make the dumplings.  Beat the egg in a bowl with a fork then mix in the flour.  When it is all incorporated beat in the butter then all the seasonings.  Mix in the greens and allow this to sit for at least 15 minutes.  Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil then reduce heat to keep it at a low boil.  Drop 1/2 teaspoon sized balls of dough into the boiling water.  They should float pretty quickly, remove from water with a slotted spoon then set aside on a plate.  When everything in the soup is soft whisk the flour into the milk until it is all smooth.  Gradually pour the milk/flour mix into the soup in a thin stream.  Stir soup well and allow to simmer at least 15-25 minutes, stirring every few to make sure the soup isn’t sticking.  When the soup has thickened and the flour flavor is cooked off, drop the dumplings into the soup to heat up.  Serve hot with crusty bread.  Or corn bread.  Or nothing at all on the side, it is THAT good.