porcine aplenty pea soup

Since last Sunday’s dinner we’ve eaten leftover ham in every fashion imaginable and yet I still had plenty of leftovers and a ham bone sitting in my fridge. You too? Yeah I thought so. Typically when we have ham for Easter someone ends up taking home the bone and returns sometime later with a few containers of split pea soup. This year I decided to take the “boar” by the horns and make it myself.

Frankly I’ve eaten enough pea soup over the years to know exactly how I like it; super thick, with plenty of carrots (potatoes optional) and I prefer the ham diced rather than shredded. With those factors in mind I forged ahead and created an “almost as good as my mothers” split pea soup. (Although she actually makes hers with smoked turkey and not ham, so perhaps mine is actually the winner in the smoked porcine category!) Either way it turned out so good that I decided to share it with you. So good in fact that no one grumbled about dinner, questioned how many bites were required or feigned fullness just to get the meal over with. And frankly in my world, that spells total dinner success!

Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham
This is the perfect recipe to use up holiday ham. Perfect!

pea soup

2 lbs. split green peas, rinsed
1 ham bone
4 large carrots, diced
4 stalk celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water

2 tsp. Kosher salt 
1 tsp. ground black pepper
4 cups leftover smoked ham, diced
8 oz. baby carrots, steamed and diced

  1. Put the split peas, ham bone, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, bay leaves, chicken broth and water in a large stock pot and stir to blend. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower to a simmer, cover and cook until the peas are tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Remove the ham bone, thyme stems and bay leaves and using an immersion blender, puree the soup to the desired consistency. Add to the pureed soup the diced ham and steamed carrots and allow the soup to come back to a simmer. Adjust the seasonings and serve with crusty bread or cornbread.

Whatsa’ kid know!— Carrot & Parsnip Soup

I know I frequently post soup recipes, more than any other type of recipe in fact, but you see I really like soup. And my daughter; who orders Won-Ton soup if we get Chinese and Pasta Fagioli if we get pizza; really likes soup. So I make soup, a lot of soup!

Last weekend my little love and I were discussing soup and she suggested I make carrot soup (she loves carrots almost as much as she loves soup). Hmmmm, I think my girl was on to something. How about carrot and parsnip soup? (A natural pairing after all.) How about carrot and parsnip soup with a little curry and ginger? (A recipe was slowly beginning to take shape in my mind.) How about carrot and parsnip soup with a little curry and ginger and some coconut milk to round things out? (Oh yeah baby, I think we had the makings of something terrific here!)

So my girl and I headed to the store for ingredients and jumped right into our slicing, dicing and measuring. “This is going to be soooo good!” she told me. I had to agree. We sautéed, simmered and pureed and soon sat down to steaming bowls of Carrot & Parsnip Soup. “Um… I don’t like it,” she said. “But it’s delicious,” I say. Try it again!” [Grimace. Gag. Frantically motions for her glass of milk to wash the offending soup down.] “I don’t like it,” she says again. “Maybe next time you could just make Pasta Fagioli…”

Curried Carrot & Parsnip Soup
Even if my lovey didn’t like it, I still maintain that this soup is delicious. I like to have it for lunch with a couple of slices of buttered toast; it’s the perfect soup for dunking.

carrot soup

1 1/2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 lbs. parsnips, roughly chopped
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
3 tsp. Madras curry powder
4 cups (32 oz.) chicken broth
1/2 tsp. pink salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 14 oz. can lite coconut milk

  1. Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and curry powder and cook 7-10 minutes or until the onion is translucent, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the chopped parsnips, carrots and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 45-50 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Use an immersion blender to process the soup to a smooth consistency. Add the coconut milk, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Hurricane Stew

Sandy. Seems like a rather innocuous name doesn’t it? I’ve known several in my time; a Sandra, a Sandy and even a Sandeee (she was a lovely kooky character). The name Sandy never caused me a moment of pause, fear or worry, that was until last weekend. Call her a hurricane or call her a tropical storm, Sandy devastated my Garden State and left many of us in the cold and dark with empty grocery stores and even emptier gas tanks.

My family prepared for the storm just as most everyone did. We bought extra batteries and flashlights, made sure the pumps and generator were ready to go and stocked up on water, milk and unhealthy snacks (we were in crisis mode after all!). And for my part, I planned dinners that could easily be cooked or reheated on the gas stove top or even in the fireplace. I was fully prepared to roast chicken sausages in the fireplace on our telescoping marshmallow forks and to the use the same forks to make fireplace marshmallow and nutella s’mores. Thankfully we never lost power, but I had a hearty beef stew and cheddar-thyme biscuits to keep our bellies full just in case we did.

Hurricane Beef Stew
This recipe makes enough stew to have for dinner while the power is out as well as share with your hungry neighbors. But if you’d rather not share (or don’t really like your neighbors) feel free to half the recipe.

4 lbs. stew beef
1 cup flour
4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. garlic powder
3 tsp. pepper
4-8 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
4 carrots, diced large
3 parsnips, diced large
1 1/4 lbs. mushrooms, sliced
4 stalks celery, sliced thin
3 potatoes, diced large
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef stock
1 bottle of dark beer
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp fresh of thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup water
3 tbsp. cornstarch

  1. Mix flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper together. Dredge beef in flour mixture.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a heavy saucepan and working in batches brown the beef. Transfer to a slow cooker and continue with remainder of beef. (If your meat is very lean you may need to add more olive oil to the pot as you continue browning.) Top the browned beef with the diced potatoes, garlic, mushrooms and celery.
  3. When all the beef is browned, add 1 tbsp. more oil and add the carrots, parsnips and onion to the pot. Allow to cook for 10-12 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Transfer to the crock pot.
  4. In a medium bowl stir together the stock, tomato paste, beer, bay leaves, herbs, salt and pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over everything in crock pot, but do not stir.
  5. Cook for 5 1/2 hrs. on medium heat until the meat is tender and cooked through.
  6. Stir together the water and cornstarch. Add cornstarch mixture to stew to thicken and cook for another 15 minutes. Fish out the bay leaves and serve with warm drop biscuits to mop up the gravy. Enjoy!

adapted from bon appétit

It’s Not Swanson, but…

When I was a kid all I longed for was processed, artificially flavored and preservative laden food. What I got was all-natural, homemade and hippy-dippy food. My mother tortured me with her denial of Lucky Charms and Skippy Peanut Butter! And I believe I’ve mentioned before how scarred that “summer of carob” has left me. (Mind you she’s now the woman who shows up with mammoth sized Jet-Puffed marshmallows for my kids and is shocked that they don’t know what Twinkies are. Sigh. Clearly she’s still out to torture me.) Anyway, the one less than all-natural delight that somehow made it under her radar were frozen pot pies. And oh how I loved them!

Fast forward 30 years and low-and-behold it turns out that I’m a hippy-dippy food feeding mom as well. However unlike my bratty junk-food desiring childhood self, my children actually think my all-natural tendencies are great! They seriously don’t know (and really aren’t interested in finding out) what Twinkies or frozen pizza taste like. Amazing, right? Maybe they were switched at birth… However all that being said, I still think fondly of those frozen pot pie nights and while I’m not racing out to fill my freezer with them, I decided to try and recreate one of my favorite childhood tastes for my own little loves.

The carrots weren’t perfectly cut little squares, there were pearl onions in the gravy and it didn’t come in a lovely aluminum pie dish, but this chicken pot pie was good enough that even eight year old me might have considered it worth eating. Especially if it came along with an ice cold bottle of Yoo-hoo…

Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe makes enough filling for two pies, we had one for dinner and I froze the other one (unbaked) for use another night. However feel free to half the recipe if you only want to make one pie.

3 1/2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 cups frozen pearl onion, defrosted
1 leek, sliced thin
2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 cups frozen peas
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
2/3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 sheets puff pastry (or 2 prepared pie crusts)
1 egg, for wash
1 tbsp. water, for wash

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the chicken, pearl onions and leeks until nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer everything to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the carrots and celery to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables have begun to soften. Stir in the peas and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together the milk, flour, salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Slowly add the milk mixture to the veggies in the pan and stir until thickened. Add back the chicken, onions and leek and stir until blended.
  4. Spoon the chicken and vegetable mixture into two 9-inch deep dish pie plates. Cover with the puff pastry (or pie crust). In a small bowl whisk together the egg and 1 tbsp. of water. Brush the egg wash over the top of the pie, place on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*adapted from megan barry

for the love of soup!

So long Summer and hello soup season. I love soup. During the cool months I usually have a pot cooking on the stove every Sunday. Soup makes for the perfect busy weeknight meal, satisfying lunch or even quick breakfast (yes I’m one of those leftovers for breakfast kinda people). Good ol’ Chicken Noodle, Curried Butternut Squash, Chicken-Corn Chowder and Lentil are a few recipes in my permanent rotation. I make my lentil soup with red lentils (rather than the traditional brown), carrots, lots of onion and a bit of bacon. I don’t imagine my kids would be compelled to dig into a big bowl of brown mush, no matter how much I assured them it was delicious, and the red lentils create a lovely soup in a kid-friendly shade of orange. But regardless of the type of soup on the menu, I always make homemade dinner rolls, cornbread or drop biscuits to go along side. There’s just something about freshly baked bread that can turn even a meal of leftovers into something special.

Red Lentil Soup
The consistency of this lentil soup is well, soup-like, rather than thick and stew-like as most lentil soups tend to be. However if you like yours thicker omit the two cups of water.

5 strips thick cut bacon, diced
2 large onions, chopped
4-5 medium carrots, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp. tomato paste
1 16 oz bag red lentils, rinsed
4 sprigs fresh thyme
7 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

  1. In a Dutch oven cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned and the fat has rendered, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bacon and set aside.
  2. Add onion, garlic and carrots to rendered bacon fat and cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute.
  3. Add lentils, thyme, broth, water and bacon. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are almost done, about 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in salt, pepper and paprika and let finish cooking uncovered another 5-10 minutes. Fish out the thyme stems and serve.

*adapted from martha stewart

Homemade Herbed Drop Biscuits
These are terrific with the addition of fresh thyme, sage, basil or rosemary. Use whatever herbs you like most and happen to have on hand.

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl melt the butter. Whisk together the butter, milk, beaten egg and herbs and set aside
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry and blend with a fork until all ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Drop by the tablespoon full onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake 15-17 minutes, until the tops have begun to brown. Serve warm with butter or cool and store in an airtight container.