So it was a cold wintry morning yesterday and I was reading in this thread
when I saw this:
Cold winter day, super thick, split pea soup (with lots of carrots, onions, etc) maybe with a wee dab of lower sodium miso mixed in after cooking.
Much to my surprise, the idea of pea soup sounded really really good. I say "surprise" because split pea soup and I have a history; in my kinda unusual "cabin in the woods" childhood, we ate a lot of pea soup, for the same reason as medieval peasants did before the potato showed up. It's a cheap, easily-stored staple food, I had a lot of it put under my nose as a child, and I always found it bland and disgusting, even when it had ham or bacon in it. But then, my mother had a thing against spices and seasonings. I'm learning that a lot of her treatments of healthy whole foods (which she believed in, in theory, but did not present attractively) were a lot more boring than they needed to be. One grows up, one moves on.
So, pea soup was sounding good. I whipped out the big crock pot and put it on the counter. Let's see, bag of dried split peas, check, three carrots, check, three stalks of celery, check, couple of onions, check, couple of potatoes, one sweet potato, check, four cloves of garlic, check. We can get to soup from here!
So I've had trouble in the past with getting my carrots soft enough when I put them in soups -- I don't like 'em crunchy in soup. So I decided to give them a head start, chopped 'em thin, put them in a bowl in the microwave with a bit of water, nuked them for about 8 minutes.
Then I diced small and put in the crockpot the carrots, the celery, the onions, the garlic, the potatoes and the sweet potato. Hot water to cover. Then I rinsed and threw in the dried peas, plus six more cups of hot water. That pretty much filled up my pot.
While it was getting up to cooking temp, I puttered about with herbs and seasonings. I wanted to keep this one simple, but I can't resist puttering. If memory serves, I threw in there:
1/2 tsp black pepper
splash of dark soy sauce for salt and umami
big pinch of dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground sage
handful of dried parsley
2 bay leaves
2 tsp paprika
As is the way of crock pots, it took several hours to reach a good boil, and then I gave it a couple more, until the peas had pretty much fully dissolved to proper pea soup mush. Then I took a wide slotted spoon and scooped up the various vegetable bits (mostly the carrots and potato chunks) and crushed them through the slots in the spoon to help soften and dissolve them into the soup. A potato masher would work for this. Then I added a bit more salt (this is totally to your taste, not an essential step) and let the soup simmer on low until my bedtime. Had a bowl for my late-evening snack with a couple of those hard rye crackers (ingredients: whole rye flour, yeast, salt) and it was very pleasant and satisfying.
A seasoning tip: it can be very hard to taste your seasoning levels if you're tasting the food at near-boiling temperature, after you've blown on the spoon until you can just put it in your mouth. I make seasoning errors when I do this. Much better to put three or four teaspoons full in a small tasting bowl and let it cool to proper eating/tasting temperature. Then taste, then make your seasoning adjustments to the main pot based on what you learned. Works much better for me and helps me avoid using more salt (especially) than I need.