February 4, 2010
I have never been a picky eater, but like most people, there are a few things I just never cared for. For most of my years the biggies were mushrooms, olives, and celery. I am not sure what changed, but at some point over the last 5 years I have grown to love mushrooms and olives.
Where does that leave celery? ehh..
Despite how it may appear, to this day I cringe at the thought of any crunchy celery bits in my food. I took a chance and bought my first head of celery last year when I started making lots of homemade soups. I found that as long as I cooked it until tender, that I loved it.. success! I felt like such a grown-up being able to cook with my greatest veggie nemesis.
My grown-up food tastes continue to surprise me sometimes. Perfect example, earlier this week I dreamt about split pea soup and brussels sprouts all day at work. I would settle for nothing less than these two things for dinner that night -- and my (kind-of) friend celery even made an appearance.
In the last month I have had two different versions of Split Pea and Barley Soup at different restaurants. I was hooked and I knew that I had to come up with my own. This soup was everything I hoped it would be. The peas break down while cooking, and then the barley steps in to give the soup some great chew. As far as I'm concerned, this legume and this grain were meant for each other.
You can make this the quicky way by tossing everything into the pressure cooker (so long as you don't mind very tender carrots), or you can simmer in separate pots on the stove. I will provide guidelines for both methods below.
Split Pea and Barley Soup
About 5-6 servings
1-1/2 cups green split peas, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup pearled barley
8 cups good tasting vegetable broth
1 large white onion, diced
3 carrots, sliced
3 ribs of celery, sliced
1-1/2 tsp thyme
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Pressure cooker method:
Spray pressure cooker with cooking spray, or if non-stick add a few tablespoons of water. Saute onion for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Stir in garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add in peas, barley, broth, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Seal pressure cooker and cook under high pressure for 6 minutes, and then allow the pressure to come down naturally. Remove bay leaf, stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Depending on how hearty you like your split pea soup, you may need to add more water. It thickened up after sitting and I ended up adding 2 cups of water.
Standard stove top method:
Spray a large pot, or if non-stick add a few tablespoons of water. Saute onion for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Stir in garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add in peas, broth, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover pot and simmer over low heat for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the peas have broken down.
About an hour in start your second pot (a medium sauce pan will do). Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and stir in barley, set temperature to medium low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in carrots and celery and simmer another 15-20 minutes, or until the barley and veggies are tender to your liking.
When it is time to combine both pots, drain some or all of the liquid in the pot with the barley, depending on how thick you want your soup. Remove bay leaf from the first pot, and then pour the barley/veggie mixture in. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Another option would be to keep this all in one large pot, by timing the addition of the barley and vegetables appropriately for everything to be done cooking at once (adding water as needed). Either way works!
Three more things:
1. Have I told you lately that I love my pressure cooker? Oh yes I do!
2. Other things that make me feel like a grown-up: the comment that my dad left on my last post. (By the way, thanks again for all of your nice comments!)
3. This soup is my submission to February's No Croutons Required blogging event. This month is The Copycat Round -- a challenge to recreate a soup or salad that you enjoyed at a restaurant. As I mentioned, I had split pea and barley soup at two different restaurants, but this version is most like the one that I enjoyed at California Pizza Kitchen. They call their soup Smashed Pea and Barley, fun eh?