Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Split Pea Soup and Cornbread

Last night I perfected my split pea soup. It's funny, because I would never touch the stuff as a kid. My parents used to always want to stop at Pea Soup Anderson's on the way to Solvang. No matter what they tried, I would never eat the soup. I'd get grilled cheese or something else. Anything else. They loved the stuff. So did my brother. But just looking at it made me want to throw up. I couldn't imagine eating something that looked so disgusting.

I can honestly say that I had never eaten it, not even once, until last winter. I reluctantly made it for Tom, since it's his all-time favorite kind of soup. It didn't come out great, the consistency was weird and it wasn't thick enough. But it tasted okay, all things considered. I guess since I invested so much time and energy in making it, I should try it. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Actually, it had some potential.

After refining my cooking skills more over the last year, I decided to try it again. I changed a lot of the things in the original recipe I used, and it made all the difference. It was good. Really good. Even Ashley ate it, reluctantly at first. Her immediate comment was that it was funny soup. It looks really gross, but tastes really good. And she's right.

To go with the soup, I made homemade cornbread for the first time too. Goodbye to the packets and boxes of cornbread mix. Mine is better. Served with a slathering of honey butter, yum. Food doesn't get much better than that.

Split Pea Soup
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 ham hocks (can use ham bone or any meaty part of the ham)
  • 2 cups of dried split peas
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and finely diced

Place broth, water, ham hocks, peas, marjoram, bay leaves and pepper in large stockpot. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat and cover. Simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Add vegetables and bring to a boil. Again, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Soup is done when the peas have disintegrated and the other vegetables are all tender. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Homemade Cornbread and Honey Butter

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. Beat eggs in a second bowl, then add milk and oil. Pour the eggs mixture into the dry ingredient bowl and stir only until combined. Pour into greased 9x9 pan and bake at 425 for 20 minutes. Check it with a toothpick inserted in the middle. If clean, it's done. If not, bake for a few more minutes. Serve with honey butter.

Honey Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey

Stir together until smooth, this makes enough for one pan of cornbread.

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