With all the super wholesome and “back – in – shape – after – Christmas” recipes and articles around, I ,at first, was determined to bring something more contradicting, as I had enough of all the good dietary ideas fired away so shortly after the holidays – why should we, right? So I just wanted to take images of those gorgeous chocolates I purchased at Charlotte’s Chocolates on New Year’s Day in Buxton – why not indulge myself as I would any other time of the year? Wouldn’t that be a good start just as well?
Well, no. It wouldn’t, many say. Nevertheless, I and the Little Person enjoyed some of those chocolates right there and then – and if you ever find yourselves around, just enter the Cavendish Arcade – you can never miss the pretty place with all of its delicious handmade chocolates. And I still stay determined to do the shoot of them some time later – still have some left.. But now, I need to come back to the healthy bit – what could lift my spirit on a gloomy cold January day? You’ve got the idea now – yes, yellow split peas can do such magic. Low in fat and calories, high in protein and fibre – they’re really good for our digestive system, and if you don’t feel so much sure about their use, I can help you right here.
They truly do not need any extra sophisticated preparation. In our times, when we find ourselves surrounded by lots of tinned food – to me, split peas are still easy to handle, and convey more credibility. No matter how humble they may seem to some, I like to use them, especially in nice, simple dishes – so their taste can be fully enjoyed. Cream of yellow split peas definitely is one of those, and it also happens to be one of my favourite dishes – which I call ‘Frankfurt Cream of Split Peas’, as my Granny calls it, too, and whose original recipe inspired me as well. I am sure there are many versions of this lovely dish, mine is quite versatile, and can be very much amended to your own liking. I prefer it thicker, served with toasted garlic bread which is a quite filling and comforting meal on any winter day. Then, naturally, you may like to serve the cream with hot Frankfurters, either sliced and used within the cream, or served separately. This brings even more ease – especially after a rainy day, when being home and feeling that smokiness almost fill the air with the memories of the fire wood crackling in one of Granny’s stoves – and the scent, along with the memories, represent the ultimate satisfaction to me. I use lighter, chicken smoked Frankfurters that really add this cream some powerful warmth – which may come from the engagement of the earthiness of the peas and smokey taste of the meat.
The first step to this delicious mellow cream you need to take, is to have the peas soaked – overnight the best. I always have them soaked in cold water overnight for 6 – 8 hours if possible, allowing about 35 g per person, the simplest thing in the world – and they’re ready to cook the next day – “easy peasy”.
Rinse them well then, and place in a deep pan or pot with fresh cold water, just about 2 cm above the peas. Bring to boil, keep boiling for 10 minutes uncovered. Add 1/2 l vegetable stock, bring to boil again, then reduce the heat, cover and let simmer. It will take another 30 – 40 minutes till the peas get tender. At around half time after adding the vegetable stock I like to add 1 or 2 medium celery stalks, washed, trimmed and chopped, as well as 2 – 3 garlic cloves, crushed – this makes the basic peas cream a bit more peppery, yet it won’t irritate nor stand against the rich and kind of relaxed peas. My Granny usually adds more root vegetables to this soup, as well as a potato, all cleaned, peeled and diced to make it even richer – well, it is completely up to you how far you want to get with it. A carrot or a parsnip wouldn’t do this cream any harm, and I liked it that way, too. Also, watch the amount of the stock, especially if you wish to achieve the soup consistency rather than thicker cream. Add more stock if needed.
When peas are cooked well, take the pan off the heat and let the soup cool a little for just a couple of minutes. Carefully insert the blender into the pan and start blending at the lowest speed. Gently move the blender around the pan, lifting it very cautiously at times to make sure all the peas and celery stalk chunks are blended well. At this point bring the pan back to the heat, let simmer for a minute or two. I sometimes pour 2 – 3 tbsp single cream for more silkiness. It is only a suggestion and may be worth your trying. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper in the very end.
I simply cannot imagine my moody winter days without those joyous moments when something that looks a bit scruffy on a shop shelf, can turn into such velvety pleasure.