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
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
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.
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.