Quarantine Recipe Series: Dutch Pea Soup

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you are probably expecting a challenging recipe gleaned from my travels around the world – something that will stretch and expand your cooking skills or make a splash at your next big dinner party.

But nothing is regular in March, 2020, when Covid-19 enveloped the U.S. and changed nearly everything in our daily lives. Unless you work in health care or have a critical business service, you are quarantined or, at the very least, social distancing by staying or working at home. Grocery stores are strained to the point of shortages, so most of us have big gaps in our refrigerators and pantrys.

Many people who are home are not only facing supply issues but time shortages. Who wants a complicated, time-consuming recipe when you are trying to juggle stay-at-home work and/or home schooling?

So, for now, I’m ditching complicated and shifting to my Quarantine Recipe Series. There are no exotic ingredients, and I emphasize items you will find in your pantry. Recipes are easy, and, although the process time is minimal, the cooking times may be long. Why not? We are home anyway, able to enjoy the aroma of slow-cooked dinner wafting from the kitchen. Finally, there are plenty of notes on substitutions for those pantry gaps.

For the old-fashioned pea soup recipe below, if you have a bag of peas and spices in your pantry, you’ll have soup. If you’re lucky to have any or all of the vegetables below, your soup just took a big step forward.

Add a ham hock in the freezer, and you’re golden!

I generally like to use at least half chicken stock for the liquid, but if you don’t have it, water works just fine.

If you’re like me, the aroma from the kitchen while the soup simmers will lift your soul a bit in these trying days…

Dutch Pea Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

2 carrots, finely diced

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 potato, russet, peeled and diced

1-pound bag split peas, rinsed and picked through

1 pound smoked ham hock

1 quart chicken stock

1 quart water

1 bay leaves

1/2 t oregano

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (save some for garnish)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a large saucepan, saute onion, celery and carrots over medium-high heat. Add garlic, potato, peas, ham hock, bay leaves, oregano and parsley. Cover with stock/water.

Bring to a simmer and cook about 1 1/2 hours.

OR

Pressure cook for a 20 minutes. Let steam release gradually.

Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Remove ham hock and let cool.

At this point, you may puree the soup with a hand-held blender for a nice smooth texture.

Pull the meat from ham hock bone, discard the fatty skin, shred the meat and return it to soup.

Serve warm with a garnish of parsley.

My favorite hotel in the Netherlands, restored old water tower in Dortrecht.

Asparagus Tarts with Panko Crust

Asparagus Tarts

It is spring in Michigan, the time of year when I get a bit of a green tinge from eating too much local asparagus. And, since I planted my very own crop last year, this is a special season as I had the chance to savor a few of my own spears – but just a few. Asparagus, a perennial, cannot be harvested in the first two years after planting. This allows the shoots in years one and two to grow into tall lacy plants which send lots of nutrients to the roots for later harvests. But, of course, I couldn’t bear to wait until year three. So, I cheated and picked just a few spears. They were a true guilty pleasure!

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Evening Cocktails – The Essentials

I’m-Not-My-Father’s-Daughter Cocktail

Growing up in my family meant time out for a cocktail at the end of the day. I knew Dad was home from work when I heard the clink of the glass rod against the wall of the cocktail pitcher. He was definitely a stir-don’t-shake kind of guy when it came to his evening Manhattan (although the shaker was always on hand when needed).

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Tamale Party – a.k.a. Bridge-Playing Gringos Tackle Tamales

DSC03976
Steamed tamales for a crowd.

Last week our bridge group (16 of us) descended on our kitchen to make tamales – with time off for a bit of bridge, loads of fun and, of course, some serious eating and drinking.  How did a group of bridge-playing gringos end up elbow deep in masa?  It all started with a side-conversation around Friday night bridge:

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“Hope Chest” Root Vegetable Baskets — Celebrating 20 Successful Years!!

The Hope Chest

The Hope Chest, LaGrange, IL, USA

A group of busy women were looking for efficient ways to raise money for our favorite charity:  the Constance Morris House, a Chicago area shelter for victims of domestic violence.  We had tired of exhausting raffles and holiday events.  But what else could we do??   “Perhaps a second-hand clothing shop?,”  someone suggested — “something sustainable rather than multiple whirlwind events?”  We thought it was a fabulous idea! Continue reading

A Malvern Hills Ramble – Sustained by Hearty Granola

Earthworks at British Camp, Malvern Hills

Earthworks at the British Camp, Malvern Hills, England

If the word “ramble” brings to mind someone droning on without focus, you are probably not English.  In England and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, a “ramble” is a walk. One “rambles” the public rights of way that lace through the UK countryside – paths established before the days of Downton Abbey.  And, like many things English, time has done little to change them.   Continue reading

Lille – A Macaron Mecca

Lille, France

Lille, France

Wandering the streets of Lille, you begin to wonder how this small French city sustains a patisserie on virtually every corner. Are the locals required to eat in a patisserie as least once daily? Or is it because the window displays look so good that it is impossible to resist the treats within??  Or is it that Lille is the home of Paul, the famous French pastry shop? Or is it the colorful and ubiquitous macaron that weakens ones resolve?? Continue reading