Winter is the perfect time to make and eat soup. It’s warm, full of vitamins and fibres. Things we need most when outside temperatures are below freezing point. My favourite soup is tomato soup with small meatballs. In fact, I think it is most people’s favourite. Second in line is split pea soup. This is a really wintery soup: thick, smooth and really nourishing. It’s often served with croutons. And the croutons are best when they are slightly burned. They add a very nice smoky flavour to the soup. In Holland people tend to add thick slices of smoked sausage. Btw, split pea soup is called ‘snert’ in Holland. I find this quite surprising as in Flemish the word ‘snert’ is used to describe something that is really foul.
Rinsed split peas.
Last Monday our weather man Frank mentioned the possibility of heavy snowfall and frost as from Thursday night. On Thursday he confirmed that a snow depression would slide over our little country from West to East during the night. He predicted chaos on the roads during Friday morning’s rush hour. I considered myself lucky, because Friday is my day off. But to make a long story short, I did snow … a lot. And there was a lot of wind. I wouldn’t call it a blizzard, but it was quite impressive.
However, by 11 a.m. almost all the snow had disappeared and the sun was actually shining. I therefore decided to do my weekend shopping before more snow would fall. Despite the efforts of the winter sun, it was freezing cold and I had visions of a nice bowl of hot pea soup. I remembered having a pack of dry split peas in my cupboard. All I needed was some mix vegetables to treat myself to this wintery delight.
Instead of buying separate portions of the required veggies (leeks, onions, carrots, celeriac …) I chose a bag assorted pre-sliced vegetables. They may not be as fresh as the real stuff, but you have less waste and it requires less preparation time.
Yesterday afternoon I made almost two litres, which will last me for several days. Can’t wait to have another bowl later today.
Soften the vegetables in butter or oil.
You want to make your own pea soup? Here’s my recipe:
Heat some butter or oil in a large pot. Don’t let it get brown. Throw in the sliced vegetables. Let them cook gently until they are all ‘floppy’. Stir constantly so that they don’t get burned. Add the split peas which you have rinsed under cold running water for a few minutes. Stir again. Wait another minute or so before adding the water. Don’t add too much. You don’t want your soup to be too runny. Add a stock cube (I used vegetable stock, but you can also use chicken or beef stock), salt and pepper to taste. Put the lid on the pot and let the soup simmer for 45 minutes. When the vegetables are nice and soft, pour the liquid in a blender, and mix until you obtain a thick and smooth soup. Add more pepper and salt if needed and water if your soup is too thick.
Before serving, take one large slice of bread per person and cut it in 1x1 cm dices. Heat some oil or butter in a pan and throw in the bread. Keep the heat under the pan really high and stir the bread constantly. When the pieces of bread have turned really brown or even black and smoke is coming from the pan, put the bread in a soup plate or bowl and immediately pour the hot soup over it. When you hear a sizzling sound, you know your pea soup and croutons will be perfect. Enjoy!