Monday, October 20, 2008

Meatless Monday: Pea Soup

In my book, there's no food more satisfying than a hearty soup in the fall. And, in fact, eating more soup is one of the things I look forward to as the temperature starts to drop. I just love the way soup warms you up from the inside out and that you can warm your hands on a cup of it just like you would with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. And there are just so many different delicious kinds you can make! One of my favorites? Split pea.

Apparently, once, when I was about three, I saw Popeye on a package of food in the grocery store and pitched a royal fit because my mother didn't want to buy it for me. I know what you're thinking - "Of course not, it was probably some sort of sugary cereal." But, actually, it was a 5-pound bag of . . . split peas. I know! Not even spinach. Peas. Go figure; maybe they were trying to make some loose connection to the Popeye character Swee' Pea? And what was my fascination with Popeye anyway? Well, it's likely that he reminded me of my grandfather, who we called Pappy - an avid fisherman who had a scrappy muscular build and who, on occasion, was known to smoke a pipe. (In this photo to the right, he doesn't have the pipe, but I think he strikes a rather Popeye-esque pose, no?)

Um, where was I? Ah yes, the world's largest bag of split peas. My mother put the bag of Popeye split peas in the cart to temporarily placate me and ended up buying it because she'd forgotten to put it back before we got to the checkout. Not surprisingly, we had pea soup that week . . . a lot of pea soup. And that kind of started a tradition in our house. Whenever my mother made pea soup, she would make what seemed like a vat of it and the whole family would consume bowl after bowl of it for about a week straight, always with multiple loaves of fresh scala bread from the local bakery. And, now, at this time of year, I get a hankering for it.

On one of our trips up the west coast, my husband and I discovered a quaint Danish restaurant that's been around for almost 85 years called Pea Soup Andersen's. Their billboards along the highway are pretty cute and kind of hard to miss and their location in Buellton places them at a good stopping point for the weary and hungry traveler, so we didn't need much convincing to stop in and give them a try. Oh my my my. Yum. Yes. So happy we did that. And, since then, we discovered they also have a location in Santa Nella (and we have an extremely dorky picture from that visit to prove it). To our delight, we also discovered their pea soup recipe can be found online. Matt made it just the other day. Turns out there's really not that much out of the ordinary about the recipe - no amazing secret ingredient - but it made one hell of a pot of soup anyway. I highly recommend.


I've found using a regular ol' sieve can be time-consuming, frustrating, and messy. Matt opted to use a food mill and the results were great. To finish the soup, we also like to use Pea Soup Andersen's Gourment Choice Seasoning, which contains salt, chili peppers, sweet red peppers, celery, onion, garlic, and a couple of preservatives and anti-caking agents.

Got any favorite vegetarian recipes?? Please share!

Other Meatless Monday Posts


Erik said...

I know what you mean about large bags of split peas -- I really do!
A friend of mine was working at a railway service yard. They are constantly finding things that drop out of the cars, and since the cars are long gone by that time there is not much they can do but "store" the items in their vehicles for future reallocation.
He came across some bags of split peas, 5 of them in fact. He brought these to us for feeding our chickens and pig, but some were good easily enough for human consumption.
These bags were 100 pounds each. I can assure you that bu the time we were through the bags, I could make some amazing pea soup.
And the chickens won't eat peas anymore.

Cheri said...

Haha! That's so funny to find out my family wasn't the only one swimming in pea soup! Thanks for sharing your story - AND you great website ( I'll definitely be visiting it again in the near future to test out some new, yummy soup recipes. I can't wait to see what you've got for lentil soups. :)