Winter appetites: “Spanish” onion soup recipe (with vegetarian option)

Winter ushers in predatory cravings: brawny flavors, thick, meaty stews, hunkering-down kind of food. Even the ‘that’s-so-seventies’ favorite, French onion soup, gets the juices flowing. No time for thin and delicate broths, no siree. I want the melty-cheesey goodness of that seventies’ cliché by the bowlful.

But after a solid month of feasting, one glance in the mirror speaks to me in no uncertain terms: I am not (and was never) the slender Alpine girl who eats dairy products with abandon and then rises at dawn to check on the cows in the barn. That’s the kind of life that supports the diet I am craving. City living does not. Sigh. But I found an alternative. In a book.

If you want to learn anything about cooking by using a book, take a copy of the Zuni Café Cookbook to bed. It will only take a few minutes before you will discover something you want to jump up and cook, right then and there, in the middle of the night. (And if that doesn’t do it, try reading Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir Blood, Bones and Butter. But I digress, more on that in another post.) Luckily for us, the publishers of Judy Rodger’s book allowed her the space to write outrageously seductive recipes, and uncharacteristically for publishing houses, in great detail. A lot of them. And that, my friends, is how you become a good cook. Details!

I would like to say that the soup which I am about to urge you to make is an adaptation of Ms. Roger’s onion soup, but ‘inspired by’ is a better way of putting it. I cannot seem to follow a recipe, not even one of my own, unless I am forced to write it down to share with anyone willing to try it. I transgressed so many times when I made her soup, that it has become something else. I apologize to the chef; no doubt her way is much better.  And you can search it out. You’ll find it on page 159.  I beg you: buy the book.

Onion soup is a poor man’s feast. Some fat, some onions, some broth, some cheese, a few pieces of dry bread. What’s so good about that?  I’ll tell you what:  you could use duck or goose fat if you happen to have some leftover from your Christmas feast (always, always, save the duck fat in your freezer!) Or, failing that, you could stir in some of that good meat gelée from your duck confit. No duck gelée?  Why not stir in some flaked, house-cured salt cod or brandade? Lord, but those chefs are annoying sometimes. No, I don’t happen to have any brandade made from my house-cured salt cod anywhere about me.

But wait! Let’s just calm down and pull back a little. This exercise doesn’t have to end in frustration. The whole point of reading a book by a chef is to help you start using your imagination in a different way. If you are a novice, try the recipe as written. After that, go for your own improvs. Ms. Rogers uses a little tomato in her soup, and poaches an egg on top. She doesn’t caramelize her onions (I did), but she is definitely on to something. The tomato and egg made me think of Spain for some reason, and so, for my little soupçon of something extra, something extravagant, I pulled out my old tin of saffron, the one that I save as a remembrance and replenish with each new vial of the precious golden red filaments. In case you haven’t noticed yet, I am ignoring the cheese.

An egg on top of anything is humble and comforting and intimate. Instead of poaching the eggs right in the pot as Ms. Rogers does, I slid them gently on top of the sodden bread floating on top of the soup and slipped the bowls into the oven. The soup bubbled and spat onto the sides of the bowl, lending a "rustic" look to this imperfect meal. But cooking the egg in the bowl allowed me to eat a solitary breakfast of soup and egg when no one was looking. I could share it table-for-two style, too. Keeping my options open. We are back to basics here. A poor man’s feast, indeed.

Onion Soup with Poached Egg (with Vegetarian option)

Serves 4

Although I was craving cheese, I wanted to make something more in line with New Years’ resolution style eating. So I nixed the cheese and topped the soup with an egg. You could also nix the bread if you want to be Spartan about it, but that would be going a little too far for me. Furthermore, to vegetarianize this recipe, just use a really, good, rich homemade vegetable stock. No cheating.  I tried not to dumb down Judy Rogers’ recipe too much, but used what I had on hand, which was basically onions and olive oil. It was just as satisfying as I had hoped.

For the toasts

4 slices sturdy country bread or some sliced baguette

Olive oil

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush the bread with olive oil on both sides, spread them on a baking sheet, and bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

For the soup:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoons olive oil

3 large onions, about 2 1/2 pounds, halved and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2-inch sprig rosemary, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)

2 canned tomatoes with a spoonful of juice, chopped

Small pinch of saffron, crumbled

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

5 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian version)

4 eggs

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat and add the onions, garlic and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly caramelized, about 15 minutes. They should be soft but not mushy.

2. Push the onions to one side of the pan, and add the chopped tomatoes and their juice. Move the pan so the tomatoes are over the heat source, and cook until most of the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes deepen in color to a rusty red. Add saffron, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the stock and bring the soup to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

3. Just before you are ready to serve it, taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if needed. Ladle the hot soup into bowls (or bowl), and place a toast on top of each. Push the toast into the broth. Crack an egg into a small bowl. When the bread rises to the top, gently slide the egg on top. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and slide them into the oven. Bake until the egg is set to your liking, from 5 to 10 minutes. 

The devil is in the details:

Cut the onions not too thick and not too thin....1/4-inch is just about right, not so thin that they will disintegrate, not so thick that they will be clunky.

The herbs: Use thyme, rosemary, or summer savory. Unbelievably, these are still surviving in my northern garden in January! Rosemary should be chopped since the leaves can be a spiky mouthful if left whole.

Lightly caramelize the onions to add flavor, especially if making a vegetarian version. Don't let them turn to mush though.

Push the onions aside and cook the tomatoes until most of their juices evaporate: an extra step that boosts flavor. 

Saffron is another flavor booster. Crumble it before adding (sorry, no photo). If it is not brittle, warm it briefly in the oven to dry it out.

Posted on January 10, 2012 and filed under Soups, Winter food.

Winter vegetable pie recipe: a humble New Year’s feast

This recipe was published in the Boston Globe on 12/28/11  

The winter cometh. Finally. Not that I doubted it for a minute. But each day that passed without snow and freezing temperatures made me want to dance a little jig. If only I had the energy. Because though Christmas comes but once a year, and it is quite wonderful, it is also exhausting, is it not? I have been doing my darndest to stay in balance, to keep from eating and drinking just a tad too much of all that’s on offer: cookies and fruitcake and wine and Christmas dinner. So far, I’m not especially winning that battle. Now I want to eat something plain and simple. I am grateful to be staying home on New Year’s Eve to do just about nothing—maybe we’ll go out to a movie, and maybe we won’t. And maybe I’ll make a small version of this vegetable pie.

For the past fourteen years—I think it has been fourteen, but I lost count—I have gone to a friend’s house party in the mountains on New Year’s Eve. The house is a cavernous Adirondack style lodge on a lake designed by my friend to evoke the feeling of her childhood summers, but I reckon it is much grander in scale than the original. In any case, it accommodates a crowd, and we guests are appreciative of her efforts, since we are the beneficiaries, after all.

It started when our kids were little. We’d tuck them into bed after their mini feast of chicken nuggets (hey, they're Kaye's homemade and I’m not in charge of the menu here, I’m a guest!) and a snowman cake made from chocolate wafers and vanilla whipped cream. Once their cherubic eyes were shut fast, we’d start with a bit of champagne and caviar by the fire before we’d sit down to a feast of our own.

On the day of the Evening, a few of us brave the snow and ice, driving past tumbledown stone walls and the lovely woods (dark and deep) to keep our promises at the Hannaford supermarket. What can we forage from our list to fill the splendid table on this last night of the year?

Meanwhile, on this same day, the kids play games, indoors and out. And though they now tower over us, they still scream down snowy hills on giant Frisbees. Meanwhile again, the womenfolk who are so inclined cook and bake and work their fingers to the bone. Because now we have to feed not only ourselves, but those giants we spawned. And more than a few of their friends. Oh how naïve we were. By the time they’re in college they’re eating and drinking us under the table. You just can’t prepare yourself for that.

The grown-ups arrive in fancy dress—not clothes from racks on Fifth Avenue, but dug from the depths and piles of Goodwill or second-hand stores. Our hostess is cheerfully resplendent in some outrageous sparkly fluff, perhaps with a wig, wearing shoes in which a lesser mortal could no more navigate a dining room, never mind the stairs. After our chit-chat by the fire (note that it is now past ten o’clock) we eat dinner, and drink more wine and champagne. After dinner comes the mandatory countdown in Times Square as seen on television, which sets off cheers from a balcony overlooking the room, now populated with those very big people we can no longer call children even though they are still our children. Streamers, sparkles, streamers, cheers: a huge mess. But wait, there’s more. On to the champagne contest in which the guests try to rank the five or six bottles, contents in plastic champagne glasses all lined up and neatly numbered, to be judged in order of the most to the least expensive. The Mistress of Ceremonies tallies the result on a giant easel. This has gotten a bit unwieldy now that those giants I mentioned are of drinking age. Best not to go too deeply into that. Finally dessert. Because, as everyone knows, the best way to end such an evening is with a massive surge of sugar.

Friends, I will miss you this year. I hope we will meet again soon. My college boy is off to Iowa to take photographs and report about what he sees at the caucus. I take it as my cue to step back. Do a lot of nothing. Hope to keep my eyes open until midnight. And have a simple feast that will be more than a bowl of cereal, but just barely. I like the idea of grilled cheese sandwiches and a really, really good glass of champagne. If I feel more energetic, maybe I’ll scale down this pie to serve two.

May your days be sunny and bright

May your hearts be happy and light

Thanks to all of you who have

visited

conversed

read (!)

and subscribed

to Cooking Lessons this year.

Tempus fugit. May this be the year that, as in the words of Steve Jobs, you have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition and be who you truly want to become.

Happy, happy new year!

Winter vegetable pie

Serves 6 generously

When you crave something cozy and informal, feed this vegetarian version of shepherd’s pie to a group on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, or on a Sunday. It makes enough to serve 6, but would serve more if you have other offerings. Use plenty of sharp cheddar for a cheesy topping; taste and add more as you like. It can be made and assembled a few hours ahead of time. Just increase the baking time to make sure it is piping hot when you serve it.

POTATOES

3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

Salt and pepper, to taste

3/4 cup milk, heated until hot

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives or finely sliced scallion tops

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated cheddar, or more, to taste

1. Combine the potatoes, cold water to cover, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

2. Drain the potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for about 1 minute to dry them slightly. Mash with a potato masher while slowly adding the hot milk. Add the butter. Beat vigorously with a wire whisk until fluffy. Blend in the chives or scallions, parsley, and cheddar. Season with salt and pepper.

PIE

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 large parsnips, peeled,  halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch lengths

4 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch lengths

1 celery root, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 turnips, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups (8 or 9 ounces) frozen pearl onions

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup white wine (or stock if not using wine)

4 cups vegetable stock

1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Blend the butter and flour until smooth in a small bowl.

2. Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole over medium-high heat. Add the parsnips, carrots, celery root, turnips, frozen onions, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are lightly browned. Add the wine and cook, stirring often, until it comes to a boil. Cover the pan, turn down the heat, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but still a little firm.

3. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Push some vegetables aside and whisk in the butter and flour mixture.  Simmer for about 1 minute, until it melts into the stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a large (2 1/2 quart) baking dish.

4. Distribute large spoonfuls of mashed potatoes over the vegetables. Spread with a fork and, if you like, make a wave pattern with the tines of the fork.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the top is golden.

Cooking Lesson

Breaking it down: If life were only as simple as cutting vegetables. There are only two things to remember about cutting vegetables: sticks and blocks. You may have to make slices first from which to make the sticks, but that’s all there is to it. Because

Nicely cut vegetables look pretty

Evenly cut vegetables cook, well, evenly

And furthermore: I know I said only two, but here are two more:

Keep your fingers out of the way

Always cut with the flat side down 

Tutorial:

How to deal with a gnarly vegetable (celery root)

Forget the peeler; it is an exercise in frustration. Slice off the top and bottom of the root. Stand it up so it sits firmly with the flat side down on a cutting board. Saw from top to bottom with a sharp paring knife to remove the rough outer coating in wide slices.

Cut in slices (e.g., 1-inch thick if you want 1-inch cubes). Cut slices into 1-inch sticks. Cut sticks into 1-inch blocks. See what I mean? It's all about sticks and blocks. The same goes for long, skinny vegetables like carrots.

Browning them in the pan adds a lot of flavor

It's been so warm that rosemary and thyme are still surviving in the garden. You can tie them in a bundle to flavor the vegetables, or use dried herbs when fresh ones are not easily at hand.

Northerners, stay warm--you other people, well, just happy new year!

Buckwheat pancakes recipe (with a gluten-free option)

I first met buckwheat pancakes through my dear old friend Aunt Jemima. But her buckwheat mix was ditched somewhere along the line. So was her mammy-minstrel-kerchief-apron image when she got her makeover in 1989. Her character was played by real life Nancy Green, who appeared next to ‘the world’s largest flour barrel’ at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Her slogan: “I’se in town, honey!” Seriously? Let’s just say, change takes a long time.

The French can have their crepes and the Russians their blini. Don’t get me wrong. What’s not to love about a thin, small buckwheat crepe with caviar and sour cream? But the French and Russians are not acquainted with Aunt Jemima. The old-fashioned pancakes my dad used to flip on Sunday mornings are not in that repertoire. Without our favorite Auntie’s blend, you’ll have to turn to Bob’s Red Mill or Arrowhead Mills. Or you could make your own.

It’s just good sense to do all the measuring at once and make a mix. The proportions in this recipe (which can be doubled) make two 3-cup packages. Save one for your cupboard and give the other away. If you happen to have the ingredients on supply right now, you could even cobble together a quick holiday gift, or take it to a friend if you’re visiting. No bake, no fuss. Add a bottle of pure maple syrup or make some blueberry sauce with frozen blueberries. It’s a respectable cheat, since berries are usually flash frozen. You are going to cook them anyway; you can put them in your pancakes, too. In December, what’s the point in buying exorbitantly priced berries that take a thousand-mile trip?

If you’re giving the mix away, write the instructions on a tag and attach it to the pretty jar or bag you’ve used to contain it. But here’s the thing: who really wants to measure a bunch of ingredients on a weekday morning? Isn't that the point of a mix? If you want to feed these to your breakfast-balking kids who might eat pancakes before school, do as I do: wing it. And this applies to just about any pancake mix. Pancakes are so forgiving. God bless them.

How to make pancakes from a mix (really!)

For about 6 pancakes:

Break an egg into a bowl. Add a couple of heaping soupspoons of yogurt. Splash in some orange juice and vanilla. Add a glug of olive oil (or melt a tablespoon or two of butter in the microwave and add it.) Whisk it all together. Now dump in some mix—less than a cup. Stir it all together and thin it with milk and/or more orange juice. Adjust quantities as needed. Voila!

Buckwheat pancake and waffle mix

Makes 6 cups mix (two 3-cup packages)

2 cups buckwheat flour (gluten free certified if making gf pancakes)

2 cups brown rice flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free multi-purpose flour mix such as King Arthur’s

1/2 cup sucanat, organic cane sugar, or brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Whisk all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Divide in 2 packages of 3 cups each (for giving). Include a tag of instructions (below) on your package.

To make 10 to 12 four-inch pancakes

2 eggs*

1/2 cup plain yogurt

3/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups mix

2 to 3 tablespoons milk, as necessary

Whisk eggs, yogurt, orange juice, olive oil and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in mix until combined. The batter will be thick and will thicken as it sits. Use thick batter for waffles. For pancakes, stir in additional milk to desired consistency. Cook on a lightly oiled griddle or waffle iron until browned on both sides.

* If you want to be fancy, separate eggs and beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold them into the batter.

To make blueberry pancakes: Ladle batter in pan. Sprinkle some fresh or frozen berries on top (go ahead, make a happy face) and flip them when they’re ready.

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy New Year! May your holiday be filled with blessings and peace.

Posted on December 24, 2011 and filed under Breakfast, Gluten free.

Sweet memories: cranberry fruit jellies (pate de fruits)

I’d like to wax nostalgic and sentimental in this post, but really? There just isn’t time. I learned to make the jellies pictured here from my dear old friend and mentor, Eugene Bernard. (You can read about him in the post I wrote last Christmas, and read the recipe for his to-die-for whiskey truffles. I won’t blame you if you make them instead. But I warn you; they are a bit of a project.) On the other hand, fruit jellies (pate de fruits) are easy peasy. They are so very French and so very beautiful, n’est-ce pas? You cannot be a die-hard perfectionist if you make them at home because, without commercial apple pectin, they need to be coddled a bit after they are made. No biggie. You can still make them ahead—oops, too late for that. Anyway, for future reference, they will last at least a month in the refrigerator in one large piece. You just need to serve them rather soon after you cut them and roll them in sugar. (See recipe for further ‘splainin’)

The choice of fruit—cranberries—is a bit unusual for fruit jellies. And the texture is a bit chunky, too. Most fruits are strained and smoothed before they are turned into jellies, and their appearance is more uniform and precisely cut. Listen up, all you overachievers who thrall to pressure, tension and anxiety at the very last minute: Bernard’s tweak on these jellies: dip them in chocolate. Now that is a bit of a project, too. Still….

If you are going to dip them, technically, the chocolate should be tempered so it will stay shiny and beautiful when it sets up. When chocolate (which you always buy in the tempered state) melts, the cocoa butter separates out and rises to the surface. It leaves streaks and makes the finish dull when it hardens. The remedy is to “temper” it by introducing some unmelted, tempered chocolate in small quantities. Those little bad-tempered molecules that have gone awry in the melting process sit up and realign like good little soldiers when they meet their tempered fellow molecules. Never mind. We don’t have time for that. Sprinkled with a little cocoa powder and fit into cute little candy papers, the jellies look fine. And boy, they are good. Take them to a friend or add a little happiness to your own holiday dessert table.

Cranberry Jellies

Makes 64

1 small lemon, sliced and seeds removed

12 ounces fresh cranberries, washed and picked over

6 ounces (1 bottle or 2 pouches) Certo liquid pectin

2 1/2 cups sugar, and more for rolling

12 to 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate (optional)

1. Cut two 8-by-13-inch rectangles of parchment paper to line an 8-inch square pan: place one rectangle in pan, crease at corners and edges, and place second rectangle in the opposite direction.

2. Purée lemon slices, cranberries and 1/4 cup water in food processor until smooth. If you like, leave mixture a little chunky.

3. Combine cranberry purée in medium sauce pan with sugar, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring often, for 4 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat and stir in pectin. Return to heat and bring to a boil again. Stir for 1 minute. Pour into pan and let cool until set. Cover and refrigerate in pan until ready to cut.

5. Using the parchment paper as handles, lift the square of jelly out in one piece and set it on a cutting board. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1-inch squares and roll in sugar. If you want to finish them a few hours ahead of time, place cut squares on a rack to dry for about an hour before rolling in sugar. The sugar eventually melts and oozes a bit after a couple of hours when it comes in contact with the jellies, but rack drying them first delays that eventuality.

6. To dip some of the jellies in chocolate: Cut the big block in half. Cut one half of the block into squares for rolling in sugar and cut the other half into rectangles for dipping in chocolate. Melt about 12 ounces of chopped chocolate in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval to avoid burning, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until it is completely melted. (Or melt in a stainless steel bowl set over hot water. In that case, turn the oven on to the lowest setting so you can re-warm the chocolate as you dip.) See photos below for more details.

Just a few ingredients.

In a food processor.

Puree until not quite smooth.

Add sugar, cook, add pectin and cook again. Pour in pan. Let cool.

Cut and roll in sugar.

TO DIP IN CHOCOLATE

Chop chocolate in small pieces with serrated knife so it melts evenly.

Cut jellies in rectangles, pat dry with paper towels and dry on a rack for an hour or longer. Drop into melted chocolate and coat. Remove with fork. Tap fork against side of bowl to release excess and scrape bottom of fork along rim of bowl. Place on WELL OILED (IMPORTANT!) rack. Use non-stick spray or brush generously with mild-tasting oil. If you are a perfectionist or just love chocolate, chill until set and dip again.

These would look prettier with a second dip, since the jellies are a bit chunky. If chocolate cools while dipping, reheat in oven or microwave.

Cocoa covers all sins.

Posted on December 19, 2011 and filed under Fruit desserts, Gluten free, Sweets, How To.

Yin-yang merrily on high/peas on earth: keeping it real with vegetarian split pea soup

I guess the title of this post tells you a lot about where I’ve been lately. That is: in search of equilibrium while caffeine and sugar-induced songs run amok incessantly through my head. Somebody help. Please.

Traveling, missing routines, eating out and eating lots and lots of sugar (remind me not to do a baking story anytime soon) were the underpinnings of the out-of-controlness in this week full of highs and lows. But let’s cut to the chase. To the rescue: down-home food. Namely, the mundane but ever comforting split pea soup. Luckily, I made a big pot of it before the madness took hold and stashed portion size bowls of it in the freezer for emergencies. So, do as I did. Make this soup and when you come home from shopping, or when you have a baking day or just when you do what you need to do for the holidays, heat up a bowl or two, bake a few Parmesan crisps, pull out some really good Polish bread, put on some festive music and come down to earth with a bowl of soup. Yin-yang merrily on high.

Technically, I don’t think split peas are particularly yang—I’m no expert on the subject—but they are definitely a fine counterbalance to the sweets of the season. This vegetarian version has the unusual addition of parsnips. Sweet and some say, cloying, parsnips on their own are a bit hard to take, but with all the other vegetables they add a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, which is pretty exciting for such a humble soup. And if you are not of the vegetarian persuasion, go ahead and throw in a ham hock or two. 

Vegetarian split pea soup with Parmesan crisps

Serves 6

Parmesan crisps

Makes 12

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Small pinch Cayenne pepper

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. Mix Parmesan, thyme and pepper together in a small bowl.            .

3. Using a tablespoon measure, spoon cheese mixture in mounds 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Flatten with the back of the spoon. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and leave on the baking sheet until cool. Serve with the soup.

Split pea soup

Serves 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium carrots, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

3 parsnips, sliced

1 small onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 1/4 cups split peas (9 ounces)*

6 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, parsnips, onions, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

2. Add the peas and stock, and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and add more salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pot, and simmer for 1 hour, or until peas are soft.

3. Puree the soup in a blender with the parsley until smooth. Return to the pot and reheat. Taste again for seasoning. Ladle hot soup into bowls and serve with Parmesan crisps. 

*Green split peas are traditional, but you can also use yellow split peas (chana dal). I did not have enough of either one, so used both in this soup (hence the yellow-ish tint.)

Posted on December 14, 2011 and filed under Soups, Winter food.