Thursday, February 11, 2010

vegetarian split pea soup

Growing up, my mom would periodically make a big pot of split pea soup. I never paid much attention to what went into it until my vegetarian years, when the fact that it was cooked with ham hocks caused me to avoid it.

When I was in Seattle in December, the pot of split pea soup my mom made tasted like a bowl of nostalgia in a very yummy way (I don't eat much meat, but am no longer vegetarian). The role of ham hocks while cooking is to depart a smoky flavor to the soup, which I'll agree is pretty tasty.

The only time I've made split pea soup before, it was a different twist from what I consider to be the traditional version my mom makes. And earlier this week, it was the traditional version that I was craving. There's little better than a big pot of soup when it's cold and rainy outside.

Challenge: I wanted a vegetarian version. Can it be as tasty as the ham hocks version? After the soup I made earlier this week, I believe the answer is yes. Here's what I did:

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Makes a big pot of soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
desired spices*
2 c. dried split peas, rinsed and sorted
8 c. water or vegetable stock**
fried leeks (optional, but highly recommended)
*I used 1 tsp. dried lemon thyme, 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram, 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp. white pepper.
**I used 1/2 cube of Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon with Sea Salt dissolved in hot water as my base.

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Stir and cook until mix becomes fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add carrots and celery. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender, 8-10 minutes. Add spices, stirring to distribute, and continue to cook for 2 minutes.

Add water or veggie stock and split peas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until split peas are cooked to desired tenderness. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To make fried leeks, rinse leek well and slice white part into 1/4" rounds. Place in a small bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp. arrowroot powder. Mix to coat. Heat 1" vegetable oil in the bottom of a pot over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add leeks in a single layer (you may need to do it in a couple of batches). Fry, stirring occasionally, until leeks are golden brown. Remove and allow to drain on paper towels.

Serve soup topped with fried leeks. You won't miss the ham hocks, I promise!

One year ago: Aztec squash soup

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