What an exciting few days it has been, that is, if you call almost losing all your work on your website and burning out an oven amidst dinner, exciting. It was quite stressful as I know many of you will understand. The thought of losing all your hard work in the press of one button is simply horrifying. However, I have a very smart nephew on my side and don’t know what I would do without him, especially in the matters of computers. So, thank you Azhar, for dealing with all the tech issues for me. I love you.
As for the oven, that was another headache, which has now been resolved. I need to thank my husband for this one and for being in the business to fix it so quickly. On Christmas Day, we decided to catch a film. I knew that by the time we returned home, we’d all be starving and not many places are open (you know this when even McDonalds is closed.) I browned a roast, threw in some onions, celery and garlic, poured over some stock and left it in a slow oven to cook till we got back. When we got home, the house smelled divine, all warm and cosy and inviting with the aroma of a luscious pot roast. The smugness of my clever idea to have dinner slow cooking whilst we were out and for the family to be met by such hypnotic smells as we set foot in the house was brought to a screeching halt when my husband went, “Is the oven supposed to be doing that?” “Doing what?” I asked. I looked in and there was a bright light moving very slowly through the heating element. It reminded me of the cartoons where the crazy cartoon villain throws a bomb with a lit fuse and the fire is crawling slowly up it! So, we turned off the oven and waited and I told my husband my suspicions; that the heating element was burned out. We tested the oven again and sure enough, my suspicions were correct. Not all was lost because at least my roast was done! I am thankful that the oven had the sense to burn out at the end of the three hours of cooking (maybe that’s what did it?!)
Even though the main dish was cooked already, this whole burned out oven sure did throw a spanner in the works. I wanted roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings; how could I make those without an oven? I had to change it up and improvise. One good thing is that we have a combination microwave -convection oven we bought a few years back when I burned out our previous stove. In my defence, it wasn’t my fault, the electronic panel was the culprit.
The oven is only a small device so we couldn’t do potatoes and Yorkshire puds, so my potatoes became steamed potatoes with butter and parsley that I did on the stove top and the Yorkshire puddings rose beautifully, in my convection oven. All in all, the dinner turned out quite well and my oven is now fixed, and works brilliantly (till I burn it out again.)
So, this soup recipe, I have been wanting to post this since last week but now you know the chaos that was unfolding in my house. I made this soup last week when we had our fourth winter storm. This one was a biggie. It dumped, in my driveway alone, about 14″ of snow. My garden in the back is still covered with swirls of snow that look like soft serve ice cream. It has been so cold that the snow that fell last week, has not budged and is blanketing most of the State. It is very beautiful albeit a bit messy, especially when driving.
One thing about snow falling, just like rain, it puts you in some kind of a lazy trance. Most of the time I just sit looking out of my kitchen doors watching the snow flakes dance merrily down to the ground. You are warm and cosy, and lazy. You want to eat something warm and delicious, but don’t want to spend all day making it. This is why this soup popped into my head. If you like peas, like I do, you will love this. Even my children who aren’t big pea lovers, enjoyed this.
The soup can be purely vegetarian if you leave off the crispy beef shreds. The shreds make a nice crispy contrast to the creaminess of the soup and add a nice flavour too. They are completely optional but since I had some leftover beef shanks from dinner a few nights before, I decided to utilise them.
The soup takes seven minutes in the pressure cooker and only thirty/forty minutes on the stove top. A little bit of puréeing and the soup is ready. Spoon out into a bowl, garnish with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche or even yoghurt. Add the crispy beef shreds, if using or crispy fried onions, and a sprig of mint.
Split Green Pea Soup
2 cups/400g dried green split peas
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
6 cups/1.4 litres vegetable or chicken broth
handful of mint
sour cream for garnish
beef shreds for garnish
Wash the split green peas and place in the pressure cooker, if using, and add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, a drop of oil, and the broth.
Bring up to boil and pressure cook for seven minutes. If not using a pressure cooker, simmer the peas in a large pot on low for about thirty minutes or until tender.
Once the peas are tender, add the mint and warm through. Using a blender purée the soup. Check the consistency and if you want the soup a bit thinner, add some more water or broth.
For the beef shreds: take shredded leftover beef and fry in oil till brown and crispy.
Taste for seasoning and serve garnished with sour cream, beef shreds and a sprig of mint.
It is delicious served with some macaroni and cheese or even better, macaroni and grilled cheese sandwiches. YUM!
Wishing you all a very Happy 2012!! Thank you for reading and happy holidays!