Sunday, October 19, 2014

Yellow Pea Soup Delight

So, the mum-in-law had a stroke, and I have had to re-think my 3-week plan. She got off fairly lightly, considering her advanced age (she is a nonagenarian) and generally frail health, but her balance is worse than ever and her right leg is lagging behind a bit. She needs more help, and since she believes that the ready-cooked food provided by the social services is not fit for humans, I have volunteered to make sure she has food in her freezer for the home-help to heat for her during the week.

It is a good thing she approves of my cooking (a lot of it has been taught to me by her, after all), and that we have the same tastes in traditional fare. So this week, I am making yellow pea soup, a dish that has  been around since the Iron Age at least, likely longer. It´s very easy to make, but it requires that you have some time on your hands. Once you get it started, it pretty much takes care of itself, and the rewards are great. There is one good reason this dish has stood the test of time: it is - if properly made - enormously delicious.

You need yellow dried peas, about 500 grams (1 pound), 500 grams or so of salted pork (or any pork: ham is fine, just adjust the added salt or stock to how salty the meat is), 1½ liters of water, a few onions cut into wedges (I used three), a couple of vegetable stock cubes, thyme, marjoram, some salt if necessary and tabasco (which the Vikings probably didn´t have, but I´m sure they were no strangers to adding whatever else they might have come across on their travels). You could probably use whole-grain pepper, but I have yet to try that.

After three hours.
 Just put it all in a pot, bring it to boil and let it simmer for about three hours. You could soak the peas for 12 hours before if you like, but I don´t find it makes much difference to how long it takes. Most recipes I have seen claims the soup is ready in 1½ hours but I think that´s ridiculous. You need at least four or five, if you want the proper creaminess, which, of course, you do. After three hours, take the meat out and cut it up. Leave it for another hour, spice it up and serve with a sweet mustard, cripsbread, hard cheese, lager or hot Swedish Arrak punch, if you can get it. 

Traditionally, you have pancakes for dessert. Or not exactly dessert, it´s more like a second main course in this case. With lingonberry or raspberry jam. 

It freezes well, but usually you need to add some more water and herb spices when you re-heat it. Pea soup tends to turn into a porridge if you don´t watch it, and that takes some of the joy out of it. You can make it vegetarian, and if I do, I like to serve it with black olives instead of mustard, inspired by the Greek. Actually, if we have vegetarian guests and there are black olives on the table, the husband will add those to his soup with the rest of it, so the one thing doesn´t have to exclude the other, apparently. 

After four and a half hours. Ready for seasoning.

Thyme and marjoram, or one or the other. As Garbo said: "Don´t be stingy, baby."
Personally, I will have bread with the soup or pancakes after, not both. 

The mustard goes on the side of the plate. Anything else is barbaric.

The punch is easily heated in the microwave.
I was having beer, so brought it out just to show you.
Nothing says you can´t have both.


  1. I'm so sorry your mum-in-law had a stroke but am glad she seems to be recovering. I think having home help sounds so nice. Mother was against that 'til late in the going.

    i've never had this kind of soup. I'm thinking the closest I've come is maybe lentil soup (but I put carrots and tomatoes in that, so not really the same at all) or maybe black-eyed peas, but it's not really even close either. I'm not even sure I've seen yellow peas in the grocery. I'll have to check. I see split peas, but only green ones.

    "Caloric punch"? I've never heard of that..

    1. Home help is wonderful - for the relatives, at least. There has certainly been resistance here too, you bet!

      Yellow pea soup does resemble the black-eye peas a bit in how it´s made, but the taste is quite different. I made it once in Iowa, but had to go to Des Moines, I think it was, to a Swedish specialty store there to get them. Probably you can get them over the internet now. Green ones and lentils taste differently, too.

      The punch is a type of liqueur. It´s very Swedish, I think. It is also great for flavouring chocolate candy. Must do a post on that! :-D