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.
(serves 6)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.