Gourmandistan

Let’s go pea!

One of the smaller joys of Steve’s life is his tangential connection to Austin-Peay State University, home of  (at least to Steve’s scatologically-slanted ear) the greatest cheer in college athletics. A few seasons back, as Steve giggled at the chants of “Let’s Go Peay!” while the Governors lost to his beloved Wildcats, Michelle’s dad (also a rabid UK fan) revealed he’d attended the small university near the Kentucky border in Tennessee. By the transitive power of shared TV-watching (a right recognized in the Gourmandstani Constitution shortly after the rights to execute execrable puns and avoid awful meals), Steve now lays claim to Austin-Peay’s cheer. He’s decided to use it, when seasonally appropriate, to urge Michelle to make this pea soup again.

Michelle usually disapproves of split pea soup, agreeing with those who fixate on fog that most recipes for the stuff turn out way too thick. Yet for some reason several weeks ago Michelle bought a bag of dried split peas, which began to haunt her from our pantry. Stumbling across some nearly local (Indiana) English peas at the Foxhollow farm store, she decided to give pea soup a shot. Backing off the cream, bumping up the flavor with some rich pork stock, and blending in some fresh green peas gave this soup a great pea taste along with plenty of dried pea texture. Adding a few bright fresh peas and frizzled country ham for garnish made things even better.

Pea season is sadly just about over, so Steve’s adolescently-altered chant may possibly be retired until next Spring. Unless he decides to have some sort of debauched fraternity reunion beer blast where it may yet again appear, repurposed once more in a manner destined to annoy Michelle.

PEA SOUP

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 garlic scapes, chopped (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 TB minced parsley
  • 1 TB minced chives
  •  2 c. split green peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 quarts pork or other rich stock
  • 2 c. peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper
  • Slivers of fried country ham or prosciutto (or crumbled bacon) for garnish

Cook onions, carrot, celery and garlic scapes in olive oil and butter in a soup pot.  Near end of cooking time, add garlic slivers.

Add parsley, chives, split peas and stock.  Simmer until split peas are completely soft, about an hour.

Blanch peas in boiling water. Drain and shock with cold water.  Set aside some of the prettiest peas for garnishing.  Add remainder to soup and cook for about 5 minutes.

Purée soup in batches in a blender.  Return soup to pot.  Stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish soup with ham, reserved peas and snipped chives.

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30 comments

  1. Pea soup is a favorite and your recipe sounds delicious. I bake a bone-in ham in Spring and view it as a means to an end, the end being a pot of split pea soup. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

    • You’re welcome! Yeah, that was the start of this meal—realizing that we had a bone from a roasted (I think) shoulder or butt in the freezer that needed to be turned into stock.

    • Thanks, Emmy. I thought, “oh, would it maybe be good if…?” and started looking to see if the combination might work. I found confirmation in a number of different places including a recipe by the patron saint Deborah Madison! So, of course, at that point, I knew it would probably be worth using those really expensive English peas.

    • Thanks—I really love that one, too. Unfortunately, I have only one. I’ve always wondered why plates are everywhere but soup bowls seem awfully scarce at antique stores. Did they all get broken? Or did less people have them?

  2. The scope of associated rights conferred by the transitive power of shared TV watching should be the subject of a scholarly treatise, or at least several more blog posts. The use of pork STOCK in this recipe is amazing. Go bold, or, er, don’t go.

    • All the “seasons” go by so fast this time of year. It’s so hard to keep up! But I just try to remind myself how very long the winters are with way too much Whole Foods broccoli!

    • In a word: no. At least nothing comes to mind! I hadn’t bought any country ham in the longest time and finally realized, OK, Ms. Locavore, you really ought to buy that ham from just down the road instead of imported prosciutto.

  3. This looks wonderful. You take the prettiest photos, Michelle! I just love the color of the soup and the garnish. The china looks so sweet. I never thought to combine dried peas with fresh peas before, but it sounds mighty nice.

    I even like Steve’s scatological humor. I hope he had a good pea ;-)

    • We both thank you! And I wish I had more of that china. I have only the one bowl—an antique store find in a small town on the way back from some work thing somewhere out in the state. Makes me wonder who in some tiny KY town had such lovely English china, how they got it and what happened to the rest of it!

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