Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup Recipe

Dont’cha just love having dinner already simmering along waaaay ahead of time? I do. In order to accomplish that, I employ one of my favorite indentured servants, my crockpot. (Ironically, at the time of this posting, my crock pot is out of service. Good thing that this stew can also be made on the stove).
Using a slow cooker is extremely helpful for anyone who just doesn’t want to deal with prepping dinner at the time when that would normally be done. This can be wonderful for those of you who either work outside of the home, or are busy at that time taking children to or from activities. You can throw everything in at breakfast time, turn it on, and walk away. It’s that simple. During the summertime when you want to keep the house cooler, you can even put that cooker outside on your porch, and during the winter it sure helps warm things up. Yummm. I am craving it now.
And at some point when I begin making meal plans ahead of time again like I know is helpful to do, I will definitely plan this one in. Here it is.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. dried green split peas, rinsed
  • 1 cup diced kosher salami or other smoked meat of your choice
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 ribs of celery plus leaves, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tbsp. seasoned salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh pepper
  • 1 1/2 qts. hot water

Preparation:

Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given; pour in water. Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on HIGH 4 to 5 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off bone. Remove bones and bay leaf. Mash peas to thicken more, if desired. Serve garnished with croutons. Skip the croutons and you can consider it gluten free!  Freezes well. Serves 8.

The BEST (non-dairy) Creamy Tomato Soup

Do you like cream of tomato soup? I do! Of course, the best way to make it taste great is by adding lots of CREAM. However, most of us don’t want all those calories, and those of us who want to avoid dairy products also would probably decide to just go ahead and…..skip the creamy-ness.

 

Never Fear, I Have The Solution.

Here it is: A fantastic creamy tomato soup that is basically dairy free!

Here’s the recipe (for a huge batch, halve it for a normal size family)

2 large onions + about 4 cloves garlic, chopped, sauteed in olive oil + 1/2 stick butter till soft and sweet

add 1 large can crushed tomatoes + 1 can tomato paste plus water (dunno how much)

2 cans coconut milk

2 potatoes peeled & cubed

curry powder (amt?)

salt

molasses + some sugar (= brown sugar)

dash of vodka

juice of 2 lemons (added at the end with final seasoning)

Cook till potatoes are soft, then blend solids. Voila! A creamy, delicious tomato soup w/o dairy (other than the butter)

Serve with chopped cilantro sprinkled on top.

Of course, add salad and fresh homemade whole wheat bread, and you’ve got yourself a first class meal!

Back in the Baking Game

I’ve found that there are a few types of things in life that people naturally categorize themselves into those who do and those who don’t.

For example: baking. When I was a child, my baking was limited to following directions on a ready-made mix box.  (By the way, did you know you can make your own mixes?)  Anybody who baked “from scratch” was seemingly in a whole different league. So, I did bake, but only from a box.

Then I found out why it is so important to use whole wheat flour, and later still why it should be freshly milled.  Not only did I begin to bake from scratch, but I became someone who did make bread.

Since our move, I have not made any bread until just a few days ago. We sold our grain mill, and with all the stress of everything, it just wasn’t something I prioritized.  However, I’ve finally decided that enough is enough. Even if it isn’t freshly milled, it’s still better than the alternative.

Tonight we’ll have some Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) soup with freshly made garlic herbed bread.

The soup is simple: take chopped carrot, celery, and onion and saute. Add some water, can of crushed tomato, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and cooked white beans.  If you’d like, add other veggies like: cubed eggplant, cut green beans, peas, sliced mushrooms.  Simmer till yummy and serve over small pasta like macaroni.

And as for the bread, just make this baguette recipe and add some dried herbs into the dough.  I usually add 1 tsp of garlic powder and 1 tsp of oregano or basil.

How (&Why) To Make Chicken Broth

Other than eating a yummy bowl of chicken soup (especially with matzah-balls) once in a while, I used to think that there was no real reason I would spend my time making it. I mean, soup is for eating, right? Wrong.

I found out that chicken broth is for cooking with. From soups and stews to seasoned rice and sauces, chicken broth (or any good vegetable broth) is an absolute must-have for cooking. And although you can buy canned or boxed broth, it costs MUCH LESS to make it yourself. And it really is easy.

Oh, and you don’t need to use any MSG to make it delicious! I actually used to use chicken boullion in my chicken soup and didn’t know I could get it to be flavorful without it. I mean, our grandmothers must have been absolutely primitive to not have such a convenience item, right?

Freeze your broth in a muffin tin, then pop out the frozen servings for easy use.

Take:

  1. A BIG pot
  2. Bones or carcasses you’ve been saving from previously roasted chicken dinners. OR necks or carcasses you get on sale at the market. OR 2 whole chickens (this will be a little more work, but will give you meals out of it as well)
  3. Add 2 onions (halved), 4 carrots, a bunch of celery leaves/1-2 stalks
  4. Add a bunch of parsley and a bunch of dill (thanks to my cousin Wendy for teaching me!)
  5. Cover with water and simmer away.

If you are using the 2 whole chickens, take the meat off of one chicken after 1 hr, returning the bones to the pot. Simmer away. Save that chicken meat for another yummy meal.

After a couple of hours, strain and remove remaining meat. That meat will be tough but works fine for chicken salad, etc. Remove all solids, strain soup, cool, and freeze.

Enjoy!

Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil

This is one of our favorites. Lentils are about as nutritious and inexpensive as you can get, so those are two big pluses in my book. Make a double batch and stick half in the freezer for a ready made meal.

From The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee

6 cups water
1 1/2 cups lentils
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
2 med potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, cubed
2 unpeeled carrots, cut into 1/3 inch rounds
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

SPICED OIL
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin

1. Combine the water, lentils, bellpepper, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, soy sauce, pepper, and bay leaf in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer for 45 mins.

2. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a small saucepan over low heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the ginger, turmeric and cumin. Stir and set aside.

3. When the stew is cooked, add the spiced oil. Season with salt and additional pepper, if needed. Remove the bay leaf. Serve hot.

I like to remove a little and puree it, then return it for a thickened stew.

This stew can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. I recommend doubling it and freezing half. Simple!

Curried Pumpkin Soup


This is one of my favorite soups. It’s very rich, so I don’t make it very often. But the flavors of these ingredients combined are amazing. I first found the recipe here and it was an instant hit. I’ve made a few changes/substitutions, and as always, with soup, am not too specific with measurements. I’m attempting to measure so that I can write it down for you here.

1 large piece pumpkin (5 cups chopped)
2 large onions
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cans coconut milk (of course, fresh would be the best)
8 Tbsp molasses or 1 cup black rum (I’ve tried both; I prefer the molasses)
1 stick butter (you could substitute oil, I’m sure. I haven’t tried.)
Zest and juice of 2 large lemons (limes would be better)
1 Tbsp (approx) of curry powder
Kosher salt and pepper
2 bay leaves
1/3-1/2 white wine
*brown sugar — you can substitute a little extra molasses and honey. About 1/2 c or to taste.

You will need 2 pots.

1.Pot 1: Boil pumpkin chunks with stock, rum/molasses, and water if needed to cover until very soft.
2. Pot 2: Saute sliced onions in butter or oil until soft. Add coconut milk, lemon juice & zest, curry, honey, bay leaves. Simmer about 1/2 hr.
4. Combine all and blend or puree
5. Taste and adjust seasonings and thickness (you can add more water or stock or wine or…)

Soup is a very forgiving dish. You can really play around with ingredients and amounts; feel free to experiment! I don’t have any white wine today and am making it without it. Never think you can’t make something unless you have all of the exact ingredients.

Serve it up with some freshly baked french bread, a salad, and enjoy!

Middle-Eastern Chickpea Soup

I love making soup. It’s an easy to make, filling, and inexpensive meal. And the variations are endless. I usually don’t follow a recipe for soup, but just take the ideas of the ingredients and then run with it. This is an exception. I tried this recipe and loved it so much that I don’t want to change a thing. Except that I switched from white rice as originally called for to whole grain. And since there are also chickpeas in the soup, you get a complete protein.

Add a salad and/or some fresh homemade bread, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal. Remember “The Soup That Eats Like A Meal”? Well, this one does. Only without the MSG and bad food combining.

The recipe was adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee.

Middle-Eastern Chickpea Soup

1 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 c chopped carrots

1/2 c chopped celery

3 garlic cloves, minced

5 c vegetable stock or stock of your choice ( use my easy chicken broth, stored in frozen 1/2 cups)

2 tsp salt (I find this to be a little too much; try 1 tsp)

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp black pepper

1 bay leaf

1/3 c rice

1 16oz can chopped tomatoes

1 c cooked chickpeas

Garnish

lemon wedges

chopped fresh cilantro

grated parmesan cheese

  1. Saute onion in olive oil until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook until soft, another 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until it begins to turn golden, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the stock and turn the heat to high.  Bring the soup to a simmer, then add the salt, cumin, pepper, bay leaf, rice, and parsley.
  3. Add the can of crushed tomatoes.
  4. When the soup returns to a simmer, turn the heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chickpeas and simmer an additional 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
  5. Serve hot.  Garnish with lemon wedges, cilantro, and a sprinkling of cheese.

It’s REALLY good. And very easy to make. And filling. And has unique flavors….Can you tell that I really like this soup?

Tell me what you think of it!