Friday, December 08, 2006

A Souper Challenge - Making A Pea Soup!


I remember one of my first experiences with the German Erbsensuppe was not all that pleasant. It was in a ski resort on my first winter holiday in Germany. I had just arrived fresh out of Qatar 3 months prior to this, I was met with such low temperatures that were till this time unknown to me and I was constantly freezing. To top all that I was homesick and missed my parents. To cheer me up a few friends suggested a ski trip. Well OK! The thing was I could not ski - as a matter of fact I had never even seen snow in my life.

Till then I was the true beach bum! I lived in places where the sea and beaches were a stones throw away. Give me a pair of water skis and I am in my element, surfing the waves, but what was I supposed to do with these ski poles? They were just in the way. And what is it with all this heavy stuff you have to wear. I swear I not only felt like a huge funny looking orange bear I probably even looked like one in my huge, thick bright orange ski jacket! Don't even get me started on the ski boots. Are they really supposed to weigh a ton? Anyway, my friends at the time all decided it would be cool to put me into a ski school and I sort of went along with the idea. Hey I'll give anything a go once. I hated every minute of it. I was supposed to march to the top of a small hill. Normally that would have been no ordeal, but lugging the skis, in these huge boots it was a tough ordeal. Every time I got up to the top, I got onto the skis and was supposed to ski down in a so called plough. Once at the bottom, take the skis off and lug them back to the top. UGHHH! This for 3 hours!! Well, I gave up on the second day. There is much more to life than skiing down some dumb slope. Like some nice warming food.

In one of these famous, cosy ski huts, I decided to try something regional and warm cuisine. I went for the Pea Soup. I was really looking forward to it. I heard it was the typical dish that one got served in ski huts and always tasted good. So, imagine my disappointment when I was served pale gray-green slop! That is the only way I can describe it. It was a thick mushy gray colored slop on my plate. There were a few bits of unappetizing pieces floating around that I presume were supposed to be meat of some kind. Taste wise? Bland and of nothing in particular - not even salt!

The pea soup is typically made from dried peas. It belongs to the traditional cuisine of several countries and the way of preparing it is more or less similar. Normally dried yellow or green peas are soaked overnight and then cooked in salt water or broth until they are soft. Depending on the recipe throw in some herbs, purée the whole mixture and add some meat or sausage. Now that was the most basic peas soup recipe.

However, I need more. So I went to work in my kitchen lab to experiment.

What was created was a nutritious, thick - by no means mushy - and most intense tasting pea soup I have ever had.

BTW: If you are having trouble coming up with interesting gifts for your family and friends, you'll find a Christmas Guide on the Daily Tiffin. This week I covered Homemade Gifts. Check it out!

Music While Cooking:

Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars. Brilliant soul touching song.
Album: Eyes Open
Watch the video:


Music and Artwork courtesty iTunes
Video courtesy YouTube




Ingredients:

300g frozen peas - yes I used frozen peas! I prefer my pea soup where I can see a few peas instead of having one that is completely mushy, which is often the case when using the dried variety.
1 large onion - coarsely chopped
500g smoked pork chops
100g smoked bacon - cut in cubes - I used a fantastic type smoked with juniper berries
2 carrots - cut in cubes
2 leeks - cut in slices
1 large potato - cut in cubes
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 l vegetable or chicken broth
2 - 3 thick slices toast bread - cut in cubes
1-2 teaspoons herb mixture - I used the italian herb mixture
Olive oil
Salt, pepper








Method:

In a large pan heat some oil and sauté the onions until transparent. Add the bacon cubes and also allow to sizzle. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the the pork chops and allow to simmer for approx. 20 minutes.

Add the peas, potatoes and carrots and carry on simmering until the vegetable become soft - about 15 minutes.

In the meantime heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the toast cubes and pan fry until nice, golden and crunchy. Sprinkle a good portion of the italian herb mixture. Set aside.

Take the pork chops out of the soup and cut the meat into cubes. Add back into the pot with the leek. Simmer for a few more minutes to allow the leek to release it's flavor into the soup.

Salt and pepper to taste. Using a potato masher, coarsely mash some of the soup. Be careful not to make it too mushy if you prefer to have a few vegetable pieces in your soup.

Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkled with the croutons.



Verdict

This is what I really call a soul, heart and body warming soup. Exactly what one expects to taste when one is craving for a good and piping hot soup. It is not flat in taste, rather so wonderfully flavor intense that you really have to resist licking out the bowl. The herby croutons add the right amount of crunch. Just the perfect dish to sink into a huge sofa on a rainy day with a huge bowl of this delicacy.

Tami, thank you for the souper challenge. Please accept my offerings.



Menu For Hope III
One last thing before I call it a day for today.
From December 11 to December 22 I will be hosting a prize for the Menu For Hope III fundraiser. I would like to rally up everyone to help raise money for this special cause by bidding on the various prizes offered during this period. Every penny you bid will be sent to the United Nations World Food Programme. In return you will be able to get your hands on a special prize. Many of us are taking part and you will find more details here.




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12 comments :

  1. Loved the Cranberry ginger chutney, Meeta.More than that LOVED Pea soup and reading about Ski trip:))

    It's 19F here today,unusually cold for North Carolina!Warm soup with crunchy Croutons would be Heaven!

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  2. Yeah, Dallas is all of 25° today and soup will be on our menu. Split pea soup is a favorite here. The croutons look soooo good.
    You mean you never really went down a big slope? Good sky story.

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  3. Hey...frozen are better than the dried I'm used to ;)

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  4. I'd love some pea soup to warm up with after skiing, yours though, not the mushy stuff.

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  5. I empathise with ur skying story. I still aven't been able to grasp the technique!the pea soup however I think I can master. We were discussing pea soup yest with some friends!!!and here u are with the recipe. thanks!

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  6. Hey Meeta

    Amazing pictures and a great recipe. Nice on a bitterly cold day. Thanks for the recipe.

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  7. Nice! I like the idea of using frozen instead of dried split peas. The croutons are a great addition, too.

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  8. You have great pictures! The pea soup looks really good. Nothing better to chow down on after a good ski run.

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  9. Your pea soup looks perfect, especially for the freezing day we're having in NYC.

    Paz

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  10. Yum! The soup looks so comforting and delicious. Makes me hungry hungry!
    I enjoyed reading your ski story just as much as I enjoyed looking at the pictures.

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  11. Thank you all for your comments. I figured you would get a kick out of the ski story. Since all the way back then I think I can say I can ski averagely. But the pea soups in the ski huts still do not taste that great.

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  12. Looks yummy....very nice pictures.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Happy Holidays..Cheers, Nidhi.

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta