Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Split Pea, Bacon and Leek Soup

Everyone loved the soup I made last night - split pea, bacon and leek soup - tasty, healthy, a doddle to make and a meal in itself when accompanied by some nice crusty wholemeal bread.
Good for your everyday training diet:
This soup is not like that heavy, thick pea soup which nails you to the floor and gives you terrible wind. It is surprisingly light and yet highly nutritious. It makes a fantastic addition to your everyday healthy training diet, especially if you use fresh, home made stock. 
Split peas are packed with goodness - cholesterol-lowering fibre, a decent amount of low G.I. carbohydrate,  important minerals, protein and B-vitamins...and virtually no fat.

Stock for the soup
I think this soup really has to be made with homemade stock - chicken is best. I happened across a reduced chicken in the supermarket yesterday - £2.49! - and took it home (feel a bit bad about this, as I usually only buy free-range), chucked it in the saucepan with an onion (unpeeled but cut in half), some celery and a carrot, a few whole peppercorns, a few bayleaves and some coriander seeds, covered it with water, brought it to the boil, skimmed off the scum and then simmered it for hours. I don't put salt in my stock until I actually use it, as the amount you need varies according to what you're making - actually this soup needs little salt as the bacon provides a good deal of salt in itself. You can make stock with fresh meat or with any old carcass or left-over bones and it is well-worth keeping it in the fridge. You can freeze it for later if you like, although stock in my house seems to get used immediately, mostly in soups and risottos. Top tip: the next time you are at the butcher counter, ask for some left-over bones.

The soup
This soup reminds me a little of the "Erbsensuppe" I used to eat when living in Germany. It is my version of a really old "Good Housekeeping" recipe from my ancient Good Housekeeping recipe bible. I think it is much lighter than the German version, which I seem to remember sitting in my stomach like a lump of lead and also repeating on me for days!

120g split peas ( more if you like, it doesn't have to be exact) - soak overnight or for at least 2 hours
100g smoked bacon, chopped
2 big leeks (100g), sliced quite finely
2 pints stock
Good handful chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Soak the split peas for two hours and then rinse and drain them.
  2. In a saucepan, fry up the bacon gently and then add the split peas and the stock.
  3. Bring to the boil, cover, and then simmer for 40 minutes until the peas are tender.
  4. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper according to your taste.
  5. Add the leeks and continue to simmer for 1/2 hour, or until the leeks are tender.
  6. Add the parsley and serve with crusty bread on the side.

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