Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quebec Part III: Split Pea Soup

With the scraps of my Easter ham I made a killer stock for split pea soup. Besides the leg and hindshank bones in the ham, I used a shoulder bone and a sheet of skin from my last batch of bacon for some smokiness.

Even with a good stock to work with, split pea soup is problematic. It is almost impossible to make split pea soup look good. To speak delicately, the drab green is unappetizing. To speak brusquely, it looks like barf. It is almost always too thick, and the peas have a grainy texture, even when thoroughly pur

There are half-solutions to all of these problems. To brighten the colour, some cooks add fresh peas before pur
éeing. If you really wanted to cheat, there are also yellow split peas. To smooth out the texture, you can pass it through a chinois a few times.

Towards a Theory of Split Pea Soup:

By using the above techniques to refine split pea soup, you make it into something that it's not. Split pea soup is an habitant dish made with a dried legume that can last the winter in storage. Where would fresh peas come from in the dead of winter?

Split pea soup does not take well to refinement, so I say go in the opposite direction: rough, country soup.

With that in mind, I sweated my vegetables in fat rendered from hunks of bacon. Those hunks remain whole in the soup. Also, I didn't pur
ée the soup. The peas break apart and thicken the soup naturally. The coarse texture is reminiscent of dry-bread-thickened soups. Maybe it walks the line between "rustic" and "sloppy", but the important thing is that is tastes of pork, smoke, and peas. It's hot, filling, and a good way to bid adieu to the Edmonton winter.

Rustic Split Pea Soup
Speaking of Quebec, see also:

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