Among my favorite stories when I was a small tyke were the George and Martha books by James Marshall. Remember them? The two hippos who were best friends who got into all sorts of little predicaments? The stories were very short and I think they were printed in about three colors. These stories were happily resurrected in our home when my girls were little and I had the pleasure of enjoying them a second time around. But with a completely different perspective and appreciation. I love when that happens.
The George and Martha story that I always enjoyed most was the one with the split pea soup. It involves, among other things, cooking and good shoes (count me in). Martha looooves to cook, of all odd things, split pea soup. She makes pot after pot of it. And George, being her best friend, lovingly consumes it. BUT, we come to discover that George does not actually enjoy split pea soup, so he pours it into his loafers rather than just tell his friend he doesn’t care for it.
I’m with George. Although would I sacrifice a good pair of shoes for that soup? I’d have to say no, most definitively not.
I have never liked split pea soup and I can tell you right off the bat that it has to do with the color of the stuff. Call me Crayola-challenged and color sensitive if you must. Some folks have a texture aversion (ie. hubby), I have color issues.That olive-green color, coupled with the consistency of the soup, just makes me shudder. Add pieces of ham to it and I just about want to hurl. But I don’t mind the taste …it’s a comforting soup. I get it the appeal of it. But that color….blech! I cannot get past the color, which also makes me sound like a six-year-old, I know. I even hate wearing the color (with the two exceptions of a great scarf and a cute quilted jacket that I own) and I really hate eating a whole bowl of that color (olives excluded). I think it’s safe to say that we now all know why the army was never a career choice for me. I’d take the Navy if I had to. Navy blue I can do.
But split pea soup….there is one difference out there, though. Olive green split pea soup and BRIGHT green split pea soup. If you can serve up a bowl of this, then no loafers for me and George! This I will eat and most happily slurp, slurp away. So that’s what I have for you today.
Seeing as it is the week before Easter, I am going to post one recipe each day…put them all together by the end of the week and you will have a wonderful Easter feast. We will begin with soup…
A super cute idea for this very springy, beautiful soup would be to serve it as Soup Shots. In little mini glasses so that each person will get a divine little taste. I think we all hate when so many “firsts” are served before the actual entree and then who the heck has any room left? Soup shots are demure and delightful. The perfect solution rather than a whole bowl of soup that you have to discretely pour into your loafers.
Spanish Pea Soup with crispy ham, courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa
Serves 6, although more if you are serving at shots
Good olive oil (duh)
1/2 cup chopped shallots (2 large shallots)
1 Tb. minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (if not, Cook’s Illustrated recommends Swanson brand)
2 pounds frozen peas, such as Bird’s Eye Sweet Garden
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 thin slices Spanish Serrano ham or Italian prosciutto
In a deep (8 x 5) heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 Tb. of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, frozen peas, 2 ts. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until coarsely pureed (I like it to have some texture). Alternatively, use a blender to puree the soup 1 cup at a time. Pour the soup back into the pot and season to taste. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, I may add up to another teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to give the soup a very bright flavor.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the ham in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 5-8 minutes, until crisp.
If serving soup in a bowl, place a full piece of ham on top. If serving in shots, a little piece…or hey, why not put a half of a piece sticking out of the glass like a stirrer? The most wonderful stirrer ever….
(*photo credit of soup shots, http://www.livinglifenaturallyofcourse.com)