As it is almost tradition, the cold July weather calls for Soup Tertulias!
I love peas. LOVE. The ones that come in a can! (Pause for the “ewww!” faces). I’ll eat fresh peas, but I never find them to be as good as the canned ones… #freakalert But I had never tried split peas. Coming to think of it, I don’t think I had even seen split peas at the supermarket, but that is probably because Sky is the one who does the shopping, I only write the list! 😀
When I saw this recipe by Rita Lobo, which also called for bacon, I was sold! If you’re vegan/vegetarian, there’s no need to stop reading: follow Chef John’s tip and use shiitake mushrooms instead! If you’re omnivore, stop making that face, it’s a legitimate suggestion! 😀
The most entertaining part of the recipe was the side – instead of croutons or dinner rolls, popcorn! I was a bit skeptical, but it was pretty tasty!
For a relatively small soup, you’ll need:
250 g bacon, in cubes – the recipe called for only 100 g, hahahaha! As I said before, to veganize this recipe, you can use shiitake mushrooms!
1 medium-size onion, chopped
500 g split peas, soaked for 4 hours
1 bay leaf
2 L meat stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade!
salt, pepper, and paprika
There is a very basic rule in cooking, which is to read the entire recipe before starting to cook. Everyone knows that. BASIC thing. Of course I didn’t do that and that sucked, because the peas had to soak! I was going to make the soup for lunch, but it had to be left for dinner… 😦
Rinse the peas, place them in a bowl and cover with 1.5 liters of water. Let it soak for at least 4 hours.
After the peas are soaked, drain the water and set aside. In the pan that you’ll cook the soup, cook the bacon, making sure the fat is nice and rendered. If you are using shiitake mushrooms instead, sear them with some olive oil! When the bacon/shiitake is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.
In the bacon great/olive oil, cook the onion on low heat. When the onion has turned gold and transparent, add the peas and cook them for one minute, just to coat them with the onions. Add the stock, season with one tsp of salt, as well as with some pepper and paprika. Cover the pan and let the stock boil. Cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring every now and then until the peas are soft.
Meanwhile, make the popcorn. Try not to eat it all before the soup is ready (it’s harder than it looks #truestory)
Transfer the soup into the blender. Rita Lobo advices holding the lid of the blender with a dishcloth, to prevent the vapor from opening the lid. Blend well. Another option is to do what I did, and use the immersion blender directly in the pan! 😀
Place the soup back in the pan (if you’re using an immersion blender, just smile and do nothing). Add the bacon/shiitake mushrooms and heat the soup back to boiling point – make sure you taste for salt!
To serve, place the soup in the bowls and only then add the popcorn!
When I moved to Uruguay, one of the things I had to learn was to cook – no one can survive forever on pasta, cake, scrambled eggs, and tuna salad, right? (Seriously, that was basically all I could cook). I started by making simple, but different, things. One of those first recipes was tapenade, this French olive dip.
The recipe I used to make (I can’t remember where I found it!) called for equal amounts of green and black olives, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. I would simply place everything on the food processor, pulse it, and there: a tasty dip. When I decided that February would be Dip Tertulias, I knew tapenade was going to be one of them. So, I tried to find the “original, authentic, yadda yadda yadda” recipe – but of course I couldn’t find it!
There seem to be a lot of different recipes, each of them adding/omitting an ingredient. Confused, I had to resort to Wikipedia, where I learned that the recipe calls for olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic! I found this recipe on The Guardian and decided to make it – well, adapt it. It was much tastier than the one I used to make!
It doesn’t yield a whole lot, which is fine: it’s pretty strong, so a little goes a long way!
½ cup of pitted black olives
2 Tbsp capers
2 anchovies, drained – we always have some, for Caesar salad dressing… or pizza. 😀
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp oregano/thyme – I used ½ Tbsp of each
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste – I skipped the salt, as the anchovies/capers were salty enough
Not only did I try a “more authentic” recipe, but I also tested the most traditional method: the mortar and pestle!
Coarsely chop the olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic. Place them in the mortar, add the herbs, and crush and grind everything until you get a paste that isn’t too chunky. Add roughly 2 Tbsp olive oil and use the pestle to mix it in. Season with salt and pepper.
OOOOR….. place everything on the food processor, pulsing until you get a somewhat chunky paste! 😀
Looking for a recipe to end the Soup Tertulias, I found one that I had pinned long ago. As it was from Chef John, it was sure to be good, right? So there I went to the grocery store to buy an ingredient I hardly ever use – leeks. There’s no special reason for not using them much, other than pure lack of habit!
But given that I don’t usually cook with leeks, I never have great expectations for the results. So you can imagine my shock when I realized how good this soup was! It was simply the best soup I’ve ever made – and one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten! It immediately gained comfort food status! ❤
To make this soup, you’ll need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
150 g bacon – Chef John used prosciutto, and a lot less than that, but we don’t do “just a little bit of bacon” around here. To veganize this recipe, he suggests using shiitake instead of bacon!
6 leeks – without the leaves
1.5 liters of beef stock – I used the homemade version, concentrated. To veganize the recipe, use homemade veggie stock − or the store bought one…
4 medium-sized potatoes
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
250 mL heavy cream – to veganize, use soy/rice cream
Chop the leeks into medium-sized bits and rinse them well to remove any little specks of dirt, which is really something we don’t want to taste in our soup…
Heat the olive oil in a thick pot and fry the bacon. When the bacon is halfway cooked, place the leeks and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and let them soak in water, so they don’t turn brown. After the 30 minutes, add the potatoes to the pot and cook until they are soft – if you think you need more liquid, just add water!
When the potatoes are soft, use the blender (I used the immersion blender) to … blend the soup! Put the soup back in the pot, add the cream and heat it until it starts to boil. Serve immediately, thinking “omg did I just cook that? I’m so amazing, I should be on Masterchef, etc.” 😀 😀 😀
FREEZER: Like most soups, this recipe freezes pretty well. I just placed the cold leftovers in a Ziploc bag! When re-heating, I just used the immersion blender to pulse it a little bit, so it would regain the original texture.
I LOVE lentils. Before, they were a synonym of New Year’s Eve: Grandma would always make lentil rice (with plenty of bacon), saying “Eat it, it’ll bring prosperity in the new year.” Not only were they delicious, but they also brought money?? BRING’EM!
Try as I might, I didn’t become a millionaire by eating lentils – but this is no reason not to make this delicious soup! 🙂
The original recipe called for mushrooms, but I didn’t add them, because I hate them! #truestory #sorrynotsorry BUT they are a great idea to veganize the soup! 🙂
400 g lentils
2 medium onions, thinly chopped
1 large carrots, thinly chopped
150-200 g bacon − the original recipe called for only 50 g, because it also had mushrooms. If you want to veganize the recipe, use them instead of bacon!
1 L water
Salt and pepper – skip the salt if you’re using a bouillon cube!
This is a mystery-free recipe: in a large pan, fry the bacon, the onions, and the carrots. When the bacon is fried, add the lentils, the stock, and the water. Season with salt and pepper (I used a pepper mix).
Cook for approximately one hour, until everything is nice and soft. Then, all you have to do is put the soup on the blender! I bought an immersion blender and I’m in love! MUCH easier to clean than a traditional blender! 😀
When everything is blended, it’s ready to serve!
FREEZER: As most soups, this recipe freezes pretty well. I just placed the cold leftovers in a Ziploc bag! When re-heating, I just used the immersion blender to pulse it a little bit, so it would regain the original texture.