Split Pea Soup Tuesday

March 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Posted in country life, country living, family, food, knitting, Life, love, photography, recipes, relationships, snow, soup recipes | 9 Comments
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Today is a perfect day to have Split Pea Soup for dinner — it is cold and crisp outside with a beautiful blue sky and we still have snow on the ground. Even if you live someplace where it is balmy, Split Pea Soup would be a delicious choice for an evening meal.

When I lived in California I tried making soup and was not very good at it. I did create a recipe for butternut squash soup that was a success with my son (designer and Etsy seller FlyingJunction) in particular, but other than that my soups tended to came out a bit watery; I did not understand what I could to do make it otherwise. But that was then.

After moving to the farm in NY I started experimenting with soup more and at some point I realized what I needed to do in order make soup thicker and then I started learning about all of the different kinds of soups I could make and what the “thickening” trick was with each.

When I started playing around with split pea soup I was wanting to make a pea soup for my daughter that would work with her somewhat restricted diet and provide her with a good healthy and nutritious soup. I also wanted to make a split pea soup that I could enjoy as an vegetarian.

Not having cooked split peas before, I thought I needed to do some tricky things with flour and olive oil to create a thickening gravy for the soup. The first recipe I developed, while quite tasty was also very time consuming and messy to make. Messy equals too much time spent cleaning up afterwards, and with all of my creativity and responsibilities I wanted something tasty, quick, and easy to clean up afterwards.

I had been telling my son, who was still in California, about my adventures with split pea soup — we have always enjoyed sharing our cooking joys, tricks and techniques, and recipes we have developed with each other. About the time I was experimenting with my split pea soup, he took a micration (my new word for a weekend away from home “micro” + “vacation” = micration) up to Solvang in California and visited Pea Soup Andersen’s Inn up that way, home of the famous “Anderson’s Split Pea Soup”. When he and his sister were little kids and I was raising them as a single mom we would take micrations up to the Solvang area and sometimes stopped in at Anderson’s for a cuppa soup.

While he was there, he bought two bags of Anderson’s split peas in their gift shop which included their famous split pea soup recipe printed on the back; he sent one bag to me in a care package.

For anyone who is already familiar with making split pea soup it probably sounds silly that I was taking a complicated approach to it. Following Anderson’s recipe my son and I both found that it is a phenomenally easy soup to make and quite tasty without a lot of effort.

In the end, we married together some of the more successful points of my split pea soup experimentation, helpful tips from my son, and the simplicity of Anderson’s method and came up with our own version, which we call Split Pea Soup for the Soul. It is hearty, healthy, and good for what ails you if you happen to be a bit under the weather (I recently ate some while suffering from a sore throat and it rejuvenated me almost instantly).

We pair our Split Pea Soup with a nice golden foccacia bread or a whole wheat pone*, cut into wedges. This soup holds over well so make plenty and you’ll have a great left over dinner and possibly a lunch, depending on the size of your family.

*pone [pohn] –noun South Midland and Southern U.S.
2. a loaf or oval-shaped cake of any type of bread, especially corn bread

Ref: Dictionary.com

This week I plan to serve roasted red new potatoes along with our soup, as well as seared and sauteed portabella mushrooms. The order I will make my meal in is, 1) bread, 2) soup, 3) roasted potatoes. I am making a fresh, yeast bread using my bread machine for the mixing part so I get that started at least three hours before mealtime.

About an hour to an hour and a half before mealtime, I start the soup. Here is our recipe:

Firefly’s Split Pea Soup for the Soul

1 lb dried green split peas
8 cups water, vegetable broth, or chicken broth (no msg)
(or any combination of those three to come up to 8 cups liquid)
1 to 2 cups of chopped celery, using as much of the leafy top structure of the stalks as you can
2 medium to large carrots
1 medium onion (optional)
2 cloves garlic (optional)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 rounded tsp ground/powdered thyme
1/4 rounded tsp ground cumin
dash or two of cayenne pepper
dash black pepper

Sort through the peas to make sure there are no tiny pebbles in them, then give them a good rinsing under cold water. Place them in a large soup pot and cover with 8 cups of liquid of your choice (as described in the ingredients). Using chicken stock will give you a very healthy version of the soup with plenty of electrolytes. I use either organic chicken broth with no msg or Swanson’s version with no msg.

Get the pot of peas and liquid boiling (covered) while you chop and prepare your vegetables. After the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and keep it at a rolling simmer.

Meanwhile, chop up your celery starting with the leafy part at the top. Get that all chopped up and measured and then add chopped up stalks to bring your total chopped celery to either 1 or 2 cups (I prefer 2 cups for a heartier soup). Throw the celery into the soup pot, stir and cover.

Peel and chop the carrots, then add them to the pot as well.  Note: The more carrots you use, the less green your soup will be.

Next chop up your onion and mince the garlic, if you choose to use these. If you will be serving someone who suffers from headaches do not saute the onions or garlic, because serving them sauteed could trigger a headache. You can just throw them into the soup pot without sauteing and the soup will come out quite lovely. Skip the onion and garlic if you would rather not include them, and your soup will still come out very tasty.

Let the soup cook at a rolling simmer for a good hour or so, stirring occasionally. At some point you will notice, when you stir it, that the peas have completely come apart and you will have a soup with a nice gravy like consistency. When it gets to this point, if the carrots are tender, the soup is done.

At this point you need to blend the soup so that it all turns to a gravy. I use a hand-held immersion blender for this purpose. If you don’t have one you can strain and mash the soup through a sieve (my least favorite and the messiest approach), or carefully put it through a blender or food processor — do this very carefully so you don’t burn yourself. If using a stand-blender, blend only two or three cups at a time, making sure the cover is securely in place each time and being very careful when you pour into or out of the blender.

Now, heat up the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a little skillet at a medium heat. Once it is hot, throw in your powdered spices and herbs. Sometimes I also add about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary as a support to the thyme, but this is optional. Let the spices and herbs cook in the oil for 3 to 4 minutes; this will open up and bring out the flavor in a most scrumptious way–but be careful not to have the oil so hot that it smokes at all, because that would scorch the spices.

After the herbs and spices are opened up, add them to the soup. Use a little hot water to rinse every last bit of the spicey mixture out of the little skillet so that it all ends up in the soup. Stir, and your soup is ready.

If you want to make less soup or more than above, just be sure to use 4 cups of liquid for every 1/2 lb of split peas and divide or increase the other ingredients accordingly.

What I like to do also is sear, then saute some mushrooms; add the mushrooms as a garnish on top of the soup at the table.   Today I used portobellos, and they looked beautiful in the soup.

Another variation is to cook up some bacon, crumble it up and serve that at the table as a condiment to be added on top of the soup. Adding the bacon crumbles on top of the soup just as it is served is very attractive and also keeps the bacon crisp and tasty, which my family prefers.

My son and I join together in sharing this family recipe with you, and hope you and your family have a delicious and comforting dinner tonight … as we will too!

Bon appétit!


My son is Etsy seller: FlyingJunction (http://flyingjunction.etsy.com), specializing in vintage look subway signs and bus scrolls.  He has worked as a professional artist and graphic designer for more than ten years. His t-shirt designs, sold both online and in exclusive boutiques, have been worn by celebrities around the globe and are frequently spotted at major sporting events, in celebrity photos, television productions, and music videos.  He commutes between Los Angeles and the family farm in upstate New York, calling both places home.

Our place

February 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Posted in country life, country living, family, food, health, knitting, Life, love, photography, recipes, shopping, snow, soup recipes, travel, yarn | Leave a comment
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Saturday evening there was an unexpected show fall that brought us several inches of dry, powdery snow overnight. There was no wind during the night, so the snow was still blanketing the branches of the trees in the morning. I love waking up when it is still dark in the winter time and being surprised visually once the sun comes up with whatever might have happened overnight.

Soon after day break the cloudy cover started clearing away, with golden sunshine breaking through here and there lighting up the trees, fields, river, and our barn most beautifully.

It has been quite some time since I was able to take a morning walk about the place, shooting photography at my leisure; yesterday morning I took advantage of an opportunity to do just that.

It is a good thing I did, because today our temperatures are well above freezing, we woke up to rain and all of the beautiful white stuff is melting, melting … melting away.

I started knitting a blanket for myself last night with cotton worsted weight yarn in that pretty Misty Morning color I was going to carry, before I found out my manufacturer has gone out of business. With today’s misty morning, working on this blanket is particularly enjoyable. The yarn is so soft, and I am knitting on size U.S. 10 circular needles, so it is easy and comfortable knitting … very relaxing and perfect for my mood.

Remember, tomorrow is Split Pea Soup Tuesday, my son and I will be sharing our delicious recipe for Split Pea Soup plus our menu for how we make it into a complete meal — great for the farm or the city. Meet up with us here at the blog, and we’ll make it all together. I posted the ingredients in Friday’s blog (just previous to this post). You might want to also have some small potatoes on hand to make roasted potatoes as a side dish.

As a side note, this morning he’s in North Hollywood, and of course I am here in NY on the farm. I just checked weather.com at it is 37 degrees here, and 37 degrees there — that was a surprise!

“See” you tomorrow!


Historic journeys

November 2, 2007 at 4:26 pm | Posted in baby, blogging, Christmas, country life, country living, dating, faith, family, food, gifts, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, soup recipes, travel, yarn | 19 Comments

A peddler woman in Colonial WilliamsburgWe have been on vacation, and oh … the things we have seen.

Our primary mission was a visit with my mother’s identical twin sister and her husband, down in North Carolina. My uncle’s health has been slipping over the past year, and I wanted him to meet my husband while he is still living at home and able to participate in a visit.

On the way south, we visited Colonial Williamsburg where we spent three nights and two full days. My husband had been there many years ago with his family and had always wanted to return. As for me, I have dreamed of making visits to the historical places of early America where I might tread on the same ground as our beloved forefathers.

Sample of Outbuildings in Colonial WilliamsburgWhen I was in school, history was pretty much the most boring of all subjects. Though in fact, it was not history itself that was boring, it was the manner in which it was taught. It was not until I could, as an adult, reach for and read books regarding specific times and subjects of history of interest to me that history began to spring to life within my mind and heart. I have been particularly interested in our forefathers; I want to know what was on their minds, in their hearts and souls … why did they have the thoughts they did, take the actions they took, and make the sacrifices they made in the establishment of America as an independent and democratic nation.

Exterior View of Bassett Hall in Colonial WilliamsburgI wanted to understand the philosophies that inspired them, the policies they disagreed with, the struggles they faced amongst themselves so that I could better understand and value my own relationship with my country. Some years ago, over the 4th of July weekend, I read a book titled “Miracle at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787” by Catherine Drinker Bowen and it became one of my favorites of all time. The writer pieced together the events and circumstances that resulted in the drafting and eventual ratification of The Constitution based on journal entries, letters, etc. from the people involved at the time. For me, the book read like a novel and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject … young or old.

Williamsburg, if you are not familiar with it, is a city of considerable historical importance to America, for it is the place where many of the key figures in the shaping of the country lived, met, worshiped, made decisions, and took actions which intimately affect our lives today. Though there was a time when Williamsburg was fading away and might have been lost completely, today many of the original buildings have been preserved and those that had been lost or destroyed by various events have been reconstructed on the very ground where they stood long ago.

An Interior View of Basset Hall at Colonial WilliamsburgThe weather while we were there was perfect: clear blue skies, random scatterings of puffy little clouds, temperatures in the upper 70’s during the day and upper 50’s in the mornings. Never too cool, never too warm. There were no times of heavy crowd congestion because we visited so late in October.

I am grateful we had a full two days to explore the village, because we never felt rushed or thwarted from seeing or doing any of the items of interest to us. The restored and reconstructed buildings were spectacular, the interiors and artifacts were immaculate, and some of the folks who interpreted various anonymous and famous characters from the colonial days did a marvelous job of bringing that time in history to life.

A cabin on Great Hopes Plantation in Colonial WilliamsburgWe began our tour on foot (if you choose, you may take a shuttle bus from the Visitor’s Center to any of several points within the Historic Area), walking from the official Visitor’s Center across the Pedestrian Bridge toward the Historic Area. Just across the bridge, before entering the village, we stopped by Great Hopes Plantation which is a recreation of a small period plantation. The plantation was manned by African American interpreters who gave us an informative tour of the buildings and grounds as well as an education in what life and living would have consisted of for African slaves during Revolutionary times.

Next, we headed into the Historic Area and made our way to the Governor’s “Palace”. I say “Palace” in quotes because it is not a palace by European standards, and is instead a rather large handsome home from my perspective. I am, however, certain it was palatial compared to how most people in America lived at the time.

General George Washington as portrayed by Interpreter by Ron Carnigie at Colonial WilliamsburgThe second day of our visit we stumbled upon a presentation of General George Washington making a speech which he originally delivered in New York during the early part of the Revolutionary War. When we saw the “General” arrive for the outdoor speech, we decided to sit for a few minutes and see what it was like. Sitting on rough log benches under the mottled shade of some lovely bark-less trees, we both became so mesmerized by interpreter Ron Carnegie that we could not pull ourselves away.

Following the speech there was an open question and answer period in which General Washington fielded any and all questions offered by visitors. Mr. Carnegie stayed in character and true to the date of the speech he had just delivered throughout a very long question and answer period. There was not one point of that history and its time line that anyone in the audience knew better or more accurately than he did.

There was something about his presentation that left us both feeling a magical connection with the actual life, times, and events of our colonial forefathers. Later we visited Bruton Parish Church: built in the 1600’s, the original building is still standing today.

The Placard on the Pew Where George Washington regularly sat at Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg

“Among the men of the Revolution who attended Bruton Parish Church were Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Patrick Henry, and George Mason. But the building’s history, and that of its churchyard, goes back further in time.Dating from 1715, the present structure is the third in a series of Anglican houses of worship that began in 1660.” ~ http://www.ColonialWilliamsburg.com

The pews where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other famous people of the time regularly sat are marked with placards and I have to say, when I stood on the floor of that church knowing those great men had stood on the exact same floor in that exact same place, and I looked at the very pews where they once took their devotions, it was moving beyond words.

I love the fact that my husband and I are equally moved by such things and that we both have a terribly deep appreciation of the opportunities and experiences that abound in a place like Colonial Williamsburg. To be able to share such an adventure emotionally with someone you love adds tangible depth to an already tight spiritual bond.

Side Bar: Interesting to note, while Colonial Williamsburg is a commercial, living history museum, there are people who actually live as residents in the village. How curious it must be to live within a museum, for children to grow up within a zone of daily time travel seeing the old mixed in with the new.

Return to Blog: Along with beautiful old buildings and lovely tree lined streets, we saw many animals throughout the village … oxen, horses, dogs (visitors may bring dogs on leashes by the way), birds, chickens, pigs, and the like. We had apples with us for munching, and a couple of times my husband treated an ox or horse to one of the apples. Later we overheard a message playing on a shuttle bus reminding visitors not to feed the animals … whoops!

Buttons and Scissors in a shop in Colonial WilliamsburgWe both loved the interiors of various shops where interpreters performed various arts and crafts of the time including woodworkers, blacksmiths, tailors, jewelers, gun smiths, saddle makers, etc. The tools and supplies on hand in the various shops were awesome to behold and delicious to ponder.

At the end of our second day, as closing time for the shops and other buildings in the Historic Area drew near, we waited near the stairs of the Courthouse for the arrival of General Washington on horseback. After a good-sized crowd had gathered, we heard the distant sound of the Fifes and Drums, heralding the impending arrival of the General. As the Fifes and Drums drew nearer, the music and beat of the drums created a growing sense of excitement in my heart. I felt truly transported to the powerful feelings such times and scenes must have inspired to people of the day.

An interior view of a building in Colonial WilliamsburgWhen we caught sight of the Fifes and Drums, we could see they were accompanied by marching soldiers and it was apparent visitors to the museum had been “recruited” to join the troops, marching along in civilian clothes, awkwardly trying to keep step in formation with the professionals. Once they all arrived and assumed position on the street in front of the courtyard steps, we heard the rapid clip clop of horses hooves … General Washington had come to address his men and the citizens of Williamsburg as he prepared to leave for Yorktown.

It was an emotional ending to an educational two-day trip back in time. We ended our day at the King’s Arms where we were served a delicious authentic colonial meal and entertained by period interpreters. My favorite dish was the creamy Peanut Soup … oh, yum, yum, yum.

Our visit to Williamsburg was my husband’s doing and planning, and a dream come true for me. As we sat down to dinner that second night, I was overcome by tears for a moment because I felt such happiness and gratitude. It was a powerful, humble, and fulfilling start to the best vacation experience I have had.

Next week I will share the continuing story of our vacation, as we ventured down into North Carolina to touch bases with a handful of my relatives and my Southern roots.

Gabrielle’s hand knit sweater as the Christmas project beginsMeanwhile, I have knitting news … here is a peak at a Christmas present I am knitting for my husband’s nephew’s baby boy … a sweet little hugs and kisses sweater. More details about this project early next week.

Below you will find a few more photos from Williamsburg for your enjoyment.

Have a great weekend!


A beautiful red brick building in Colonial Williamsburg

A laundry bucket in Colonial Williamsburg

A beautiful stream in Colonial Williamsburg

A sweet little birdie in Colonial Williamsburg

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