Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dark Days Week 8: Pea soup and homemade bread

This week, in keeping with the 'theme' of soup/one-pot meals, I made a Quebec staple: split-pea soup with ham. I took it a step further as well and, after the soup had been done, used the same dutch oven to make a loaf of freeform bread. I let my San Francisco roots come out a bit here and made it a sourdough loaf ;)



Split-pea soup isn't a particular favorite of mine, but it is difficult to avoid in Quebec, especially in late winter/early spring as it is a staple dish during cabane à sucre season. Ultimately, it is ridiculously easy to make and very filling, so I have learned to embrace it. 

Every time I make it, I'm reminded of a story I used to like when I was young. George and Martha were two hippo friends who starred in a series of stories, which have now apparently been turned into a TV series as well. One of those stories was titled, fittingly enough, "Split Pea Soup" in which Martha loves cooking tons and tons of split pea soup, but George doesn't like eating it. Martha gets up to get more soup and George, who can't stomach another bowl but doesn't want to hurt her feelings, tries to hide his in his loafers under the table:

Bruno hasn't yet tried to hide any in his shoes, thankfully, but I must admit that when I do make a batch, it is a large one. Luckily this soup freezes really well, so you can make one big batch and portion it into freezer bags for easy meals later on. Yellow peas are more traditional here in Quebec, but you can use green or a combination of the two. All I need for this recipe is some organic yellow split peas, a few local carrots (diced) and a thick ham steak (diced) from a local organic pork producer who I just discovered at our grocery store. Everything went in the pot along with plenty of stock (made from hambones leftover from Christmas and some leftover veg bits), and put on low heat to cook for a few hours until the peas mostly fall apart and the soup is thick. 

After having cooked and cooled the soup, I made my bread. Sourdough bread is a whole other post, so I won't get into the details of that here. But I have been venturing into bread making these past few weeks and am beginning to really enjoy it, as I am learning how to knead properly and a few tricks to stack the odds in my favor. I cleaned out my dutch oven from the soup, greased it and in went the dough to rise and then bake. A quick reheat of the soup, served with a warm, buttered slice of bread and a lot of cracked black pepper and there you have both a local and (mostly) traditional Quebec one-pot meal. 

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