Smoky Split Pea Soup

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So, the recipe began with The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Cookbook I am reviewing for my book review blog. I will note the adjustments I made to the recipe.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 coffee beans
  • 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3–4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced (The cookbook called for red, I don’t have any on hand.)
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil (This seemed like a lot, but I decided to trust the recipe. It is the right amount.)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine (The recipe calls for vermouth, but I didn’t want to buy something when I had white wine which worked perfectly well.)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat the olive oil, add the thyme, red chili peppers, and coffee beans. Add chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper, two bay leaves, and smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low until onions are tender, but not caramelized.

Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Cook ten minutes or so, until alcohol is cooked off.

Toss in the split peas, salt, pepper and water and turn heat up to a low boil for about an hour to 90 minutes until the peas are tender. Check frequently, stirring so it does not burn or stick to the bottom.

Using a slotted spoon remove the bay leaves and coffee beans and let cool. The book does not mention doing this, but it just makes sense. However, I missed one coffee bean (it must have been a small one) so it got blended up in the blender, hence a few tiny brown flakes in the soup. This was not enough to ruin the soup, but I think blending all the beans into the soup would be a disaster.

Blend in batches in a magic bullet, blender or with immersion blender.

So this soup is magical, rich and creamy with no dairy, smoky and rich in flavor without bacon or ham. Those coffee beans were an intriguing idea and they worked a treat. The splash of balsamic vinegar gives it a fresh and light lift that is what you taste first before it deepens to the smoky umami of the peas and ends on the gentle heat of the peppers.

 

Pear & Delicata Squash Soup

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I have an abundance of pears so I decided on making a pear soup. One of my favorite soups is Pear & Parsnip Soup but I didn’t have any parsnips. I had a delicata squash though and thought it looked promising.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Delicata squash
  • 3 small pears or 2 large pears
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 32 oz. or 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • kosher salt

I put my soup kettle on a low medium with the olive oil. I added the diced onions and dried thyme, letting them slowly cook until transparent.

Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped up the squash, reserving the seeds. It made about 2 cups of chopped up squash, perhaps a little bit over.  Adding the squash to the pot, I stirred and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes. While they cooked, I peeled and chopped up the pears and added them to the pot and let it cook a couple more minutes before tossing in the wine and the broth. I turned up the heat so it began to simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes.

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While the soup was cooking, I rinsed the seeds in water and cleaned away the stringy pulp. Pushing the pulp against the strainer mesh helped in cleaning it away. I then heated a cast iron skillet in a dry pan with no oil to a notch above medium. I tossed the seeds in and toasted them with some kosher salt until toasty brown, stirring frequently so they did not burn. These I set aside for garnish.

I let the soup cook until the squash was tender and puréed with an immersion blender. Serving with a few squash seeds on top, it was a delicious soup. The flavor of the wine comes through without overpowering the soup. The sweetness of the pears and the squash make it lush and slightly sweet. It is a light and refreshing soup. This makes six servings.

 

Alaskan Cod Poached in Fennel Broth

Alaskan Cod Poached in Fennel Broth

So this was more effort than my usual meal since I actually had to make this broth before I could poach the cod, but it was so worth it. The fennel broth imparted a delicate hint of fennel, nothing overpowering and cod needs something light and delicate. It was delicious. Good thing, too, as the first time, I forgot to take the picture. So I made it for lunch the next day and took pictures but forgot to make sure they were in focus. So, 2 days later for my third meal, I finally got the pictures. While this makes one serving, the broth is usable multiple times if you strain it after using it. It should be good for four days or you can freeze it and use it to poach chicken, fish, or vegetables.

So first you make the broth. This took a little over an hour.

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Sauté onion, celery, carrot and fennel until they change color.

Start with 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, 1/2 yellow onion and half the stalks and fronds from a fennel bulb. Clean and chop into thin slices.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan to medium, add the veggies and stir. Cook until they change color then add 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 tsp of thyme, 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds, salt, pepper and the rest of the stalks and fronds, chopped up finely. Simmer.

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Add water and wine to the sautéed vegetables and bring to a boil, then simmer.

Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 2 cups of liquid. Cool and strain.

Heat the broth to a simmer in a small sauce pan and then put your filet in the broth to poach. Make sure it is completely covered. Like all fish, do not overcook. It will take about  7 minutes more or less, depending on the size of the filet. It should be flaky and opaque.

While the broth was heating, I made an easy little sauce for the fish. I took 3 grape tomatoes and quartered them lengthwise and put them in a dry sauce pan on high to get a tiny bit of char. Then I added 2 tsp of chopped onions, salt and pepper, and 1 tsp of butter. I cut 4 olives into slices and added them. I let it all cook until tender and the tomatoes were breaking down and added a splash of white wine.  I turned down the heat and let simmer until the fish was done.

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Lay down a nice sauce (tomatoes and olives) and serve with a vegetable on this side (cucumbers).

I served it with some slices of cucumber with salt, pepper and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar on the side. I laid down the sauce and placed the cod filet on top.

While the Swede in me thinks nothing in the world can compare with some torsk sautéed in butter with a bit of nutmeg, this is a delicious, light and flavorful alternative. Definitely a better use of the stalks than compost.

 

Potato Patties & Turkey/Veggie Saute

Potato Patty with Turkey/Veggie Saute

This is a perfect way to use up the last of the veggies before your next trip to the market. The night before I cooked mashed potatoes because my potatoes were sprouting. I cut away the sprouts and boiled them up. When they were cooked to being tender enough to put a fork in easily without them falling apart, I drained off the water. For each potato, I added 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1 TBSP of butter and 1 TBSP of sour cream . When it was all mixed up, I added dried dill weed, salt and pepper to taste.  They were tasty, but if I am going to make mashed potatoes, I always make enough for patties the next day. To make them, heat your griddle to medium and spray lightly with oil. Make the patties by hand, shaping them to about the size of a quarter-pound burger and put them on the griddle to cook. It takes about 8-10 minutes per side for them to brown to a nice crisp, more  than enough time to make the saute.

For the saute, first put 1 TBSP of olive oil in your pan and heat it medium, adding 1/4 of an onion, chopped. Add a few leaves of tarragon and 3 cloves of garlic. Add 6 oz. of ground turkey (more or less – I added 1/4 of a pkg. from the store.) After the turkey was close to done, I added 1/4 cup of white wine and started adding veggies in order of the time they need to cook. I pulled out the use it or lose it veggies on their last legs. The mushrooms were a bit dry, so I added them earlier than I usually would so they had time to soak up some juices. Here’s a hint, never store your mushrooms in plastic. Put them in a paper bag. They may dry out, but they won’t spoil and you can soak them a bit to reconstitute them and they will be fine. 

I used about 5 asparagus spears, cutting off the ends and chopping them into 1 inch lengths. A few bits were questionable so I tossed them. Putting a lid on I let that cook while I cut the squash. I had a summer squash and a zucchini that I chopped up though I only used 1/2 the zucchini as the rest was too far gone. I tossed those in and put the lid back on while I chopped up a tomato. Before adding the tomato, I added 2 TBSP of dijon mustard and stirred that in. Then I put the tomato in and put the lid on and let it simmer. It finished a bit before the patties were ready so I turned the heat down to low and kept it warm while I waited for the patties to crisp up.

When they were done, I put two on my plate with the saute. The saute actually made enough for three servings, so I stores some for later along with the extra patties I had cooked.