Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Split Pea and Barley Soup




Let us, then, be up and doing, 
       
With a heart for any fate; 
   
Still achieving, still pursuing, 
       
Learn to labor and to wait.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, A Psalm of Life

If we - that is, I - have learned anything from this year's MoFo theme, it's that energy, perseverance, and fortitude are key to surviving privation and adversity. (An ability to queue patiently, and a knowledge of roots, tubers, and legumes also come in damned useful.) Which brings us to the subject of legumes. As Carolyn, the intrepid blogger at The 1940s Experiment, notes: "Dried peas were available through the points system during the rationing years…you could get quite a lot of split peas for your points every month (8 lbs) if you didn’t use your 16 points up for 2 lbs of dry fruit or just one can of meat/fish." Since beans and peas pack a lot of nutritional punch, their frequent appearance in wartime recipes makes perfect sense; in fact, the most surprising thing is that the UK's entire population didn't turn vegan on the spot!


Today's recipe is a fairly basic split pea soup, to which can be added whatever root veggies happen to be on hand; carrots, turnips, parsnips, cabbage, the ubiquitous onions and potatoes...after a month of this, I'm sure you're getting the idea. I made this while housebound by Hurricane Sandy, and used most of the contents of our vegetable bin, along with a some barley from my mother's insanely overstocked larder for that substantial "something" so welcome on a blustery afternoon (and of course a handful of green leafies never comes amiss if you have some lying around). And although Sandy wast exactly the Blitz, the soup kicked some serious ass; in combination with a pile of cheesy oatcakes, it was the kind of dinner that fuels a person to be up and doing, with a heart for any fate.

Split Pea and Barley Soup
Ingredients
~ 1 tbsp. margarine (I use Earth Balance) or neutral oil such as canola
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 1 large carrot, diced
~ 1 large parsnip, diced
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 large potato, diced
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, sage, marjoram
~ Generous dose of fresh black pepper
~ 1.5 cups split peas
~ 3/4 cup pearled barley
~ 1/4 head cabbage, chopped (about 2 cups)
~ 1 tsp. each: vegan Worcestershire sauce, Liquid Smoke
~ 8-10 cups vegetable stock
~ 2 bay leaves

Directions
~In a large, deep pot, heat the margarine or oil and sauté the onion over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
~Add the carrot, parsnip, celery, potato, and dry seasonings; cook about 5-7 minutes more, stirring occasionally and adding a  splash of broth as needed to prevent sticking.
~Stir in the split peas, barley, cabbage, Worcester sauce, Liquid Smoke, and the bay leaves. Stir to coat and cook another few minutes.
~Raise the heat to high, add 8 cups of the vegetable broth, then cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about an hour, or until the split peas are tender. Stir occasionally and add more stock if the soup is getting thicker than you'd like.
~ Fish out the bay leaves and serve hot. (NB that this thickens as it sits, so you may want to add a bit of water when reheating the excellent leftovers, which just keep getting better!)

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