Thursday, January 22, 2015

Split Pea Soup

There was some leftover ham in the refrigerator when I started thinking about making a bean soup....but when I looked in the pantry a bag of split peas was looking back at, Split Pea Soup was in the making!

I have used the same recipe for years and decided that branching out would be a good idea.   As I paged through cookbooks, I came across a recipe called Parker's Split Pea Soup in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  Sometimes I think that I do not spend enough time reading through some of the many cookbooks on the shelf.  I say that because this recipe has been hiding from me for a very long time.  And, who is Parker?  Parker was a chef who worked in Ina's gourmet food store, Barefoot Contessa.  I think I would have stood in line to get a bowl of this soup!  It is that delicious.

I know that the original recipe does not call for ham....but that is what started the whole thing so yes, I add ham to the mix.

Parker's Split Pea Soup
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1 1//2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3-4 carrots, peeled, diced (about 2 cups)
3 unpeeled medium red potatoes (about 1 cup)  (I peeled mine.)
1 pound dried split green peas, divided
1 ham slice, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 cups chicken stock

In a 6 quart dutch oven, heat the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic.  Add the oregano, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are translucent, about 12 minutes.  Add the carrots, potatoes, 1/2 pound of the split peas and the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes.  Skim off any foam while cooking.  Add the remaining half pound of split peas and the ham.  Simmer for another 40 minutes or until all of the peas are soft.  Stir frequently to prevent the solids from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve hot with crusty garlic bread or baguette rounds that have been brushed with olive oil and lightly toasted under the broiler, then sprinkled with a shredded cheese of your choice.  Garnish the soup with croutons or one of the baguette slices.  (I have used both Fontina cheese and Parmesan cheese.)

This was a tasty soup...quick and easy, too!
I am sharing today at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Red Beans and Rice - Quick Comfort Food

There are quite a few different versions of Red Beans and Rice and it would be difficult to say which one is the best.  One thing for certain, though, is that they all start with the holy trinity of Creole and Cajun cooking - onion, bell pepper and celery.

This version of the dish includes sausage as opposed to a smoked pork chop and bacon instead of a ham hock.   It is a very good thing that there really isn't a recipe per is a basic combination of red beans, the holy trinity, sausage and rice...along with tomatoes and some spices tossed in.  Quick and easy as I only had canned beans in the pantry, no dry beans.

Red Beans and Rice - Quick Comfort Food
adapted from The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine

Yield:  6 servings

3 strips thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped
1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced on the diagonal (I used Louisiana Hot Sausage)
4 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock, plus additional, if needed
2 14.5-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
6 ribs celery, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 bell peppers, chopped (about 2 cups) (I used a combination of red and green bell peppers.)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (omit or adjust as desired)
2 cups uncooked rice
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the chopped bacon.  Add the olive oil, onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, chicken stock, sausage, paprika, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and cayenne (if desired).  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the mixture gets too dry, add additional chicken stock.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the rice using your preferred method.  (I make mine in the microwave.)

Spoon the rice into the bowl, top with a ladle of beans.  Garnish with the chopped green onions and parsley.


We really enjoyed the beans but they were a bit spicy!  I am certain that using the Louisiana Hot Sausage contributed to the "heat"....I definitely should have tasted before adding the cayenne! We love hot and spicy dishes....I just hadn't expected it!

I would definitely make this again....quick and easy comfort food for a chilly day!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.