Thursday, November 03, 2005

Recipe -- Zen Split Pea and Barley Soup

I picked this recipe because I found some beautiful green and yellow split peas at Trader Joe's, and I wanted a break from traditional Split Pea soup. The barley seemed like it would be an interesting addition, and I thought the spices would go well together. I got it from the book Soup of the Day, by Lydie Marshall. There are several recipes I want to try from this book.

As usual, I made the recipe pretty much as it was written. The results were good, but not excellent. One of the problems was with the split peas themselves, which never got soft. I'm a little surprised because I've always found Trader Joe's products to be really good. I've used their black lentils before (in an excellent lentil soup recipe that I hope I remember where I found) and they were fine, so I figured the green and yellow split peas would be ok, too.

Since they weren't, I had to cook the soup longer than I should have and the barley got a little too soft. And the peas never did get soft enough to disappear into the liquid like they should have, so there were little pieces of pea I kept running into. The recipe calls for fresh herbs and I used dried; I think the equivalents given were a little too much. There was a slightly bitter aftertaste due to the heavy spiceage (have I just created a new word?).

Will I make this again? You bet. I think it has the makings of an excellent soup. Here's what I'll do differently next time:

1. Make sure the split peas are fresh (sounds like a duh, but . . .)
2. Reduce the amounts of thyme and basil, probably by about half each and I'll do it more by taste.
3. Instead of the 8 cups of vegetable broth, I'll probably use 4 cups broth and 2 cups water. The liquid/peas ratio seemed a bit high on the liquid side and the vegetable broth kind of overpowered the split peas a little.
4. Wait to add the barley until I'm sure the peas are going to turn out ok.

I've been playing with how to show/hide text but it's trickier than it looked like it was going to be at first, so I'll just post the whole recipe here:

Home Cookin 4.9 Chapter: Soups and Stews

Zen Split Pea and Barley Soup
--from Soup of the Day, by Lydie Marshall (HarperCollins, 2003)
1 c. split peas
1 med. onion, chopped
2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 Tbsp. basil (or 1/2 c. fresh, loosely packed)
1 Tbsp. thyme (or several sprigs fresh)
10 sprigs parsley, chopped
2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
freshly ground black pepper
8 c. vegetable broth
1/3 c. pearled barley
butter (opt.)

In a 6-qt heavy-bottomed pot, combine split peas, onion and herbs; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour in the broth, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.

Add barley and simmer for another 30 mins., or until barley and split peas are soft.

Taste and correct seasonings before serving. Serve very hot, with a Tbsp. of butter swirled into each bowl if desired.

Serves 6-8
Text slightly altered; content's the same.

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