Errr… you did notice I was gone, right?
I’ve got an excuse, though. After three years of sailing through flu season with nary a sniffle, I got slammed with a really nasty cold a couple of weeks ago – I’m talking one of those Seven Dwarves kind of cold, which comes complete with Sneezy, Coughy, Sniffly, Wheezy, Sleepy, Dopey and Snot.
Needless to say, being able to stand upright for more than a couple of hours at a time has been my biggest achievement this past two weeks. Managing to do other stuff, like cooking, blogging, doing the dishes or maintaining an intelligent conversation? Yeah, not so much.
It’s a good thing I had squirreled away a couple of containers of this French Canadian Pea Soup in my freezer, after one of my occasional stocking-up-for-a-rainy-day cooking binges.
It’s exactly the kind of food I crave when I’m under the weather. It’s smoky and hearty, with a subtstantial warmth that coaxes me back to some semblance of humanity when I’d rather huddle under the covers in a miserable ball of snotty self-pity. Best of all, it’s easy… I can always manage a quick defrost-and-reheat sort of meal, no matter how miserable I am.
If chicken soup is Jewish penicillin, then this is the Quebecois version.
I’ve written this recipe to use a store-bought ham hock, since that’s what I use when I don’t have a leftover ham bone kicking around, but I can vouch for the fact that a good-sized meaty ham bone left over from Easter dinner will do just as well (as would the scraps from a smoked pulled pork shoulder, for that matter). Whatever you do, don’t leave it out altogether – that meaty pork bone is essential to giving the soup a deep, rich, smoky flavour that belies its relatively short list of ingredients.
No matter what it is you might be suffering from, I guarantee that a couple of bowls of this soup are sure to set you right.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
- 10 cups water
- 1 lb dried yellow split peas
- 1 smoked ham hock (~ 1 lb)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried savoury
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a very large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat, sweat the onions and carrots in butter for 5-7 minute, or until onions are soft and translucent.
- Stir in water, split peas, ham hock, bay leaves, thyme and savoury. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 2½ to 3 hours, or until the peas are soft and begin to fall apart into a puree.
- Remove the ham hock. Pull the meat away from the bone, and shred or chop into small dice. Set ham aside, and discard the bone. Remove bay leaves and discard these as well.
- Taste soup, and adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. For a very smooth soup, use an immersion blender to puree completely, or leave as-is for a chunkier texture. Stir chopped ham back into the soup, and serve immediately.