This isn't exactly a Spring dish (see the Hearty Summer Soup I posted on Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly this week for a more seasonal option), but it's so delicious I'm going to post it anyhow. I've made split pea soup a million times, love it. I know that my dad & stepmom Susanna like it too, and since they were coming to stay for a few days, I decided to make a pot to have on hand for quick lunches and the like. I prefer the lighter texture of yellow peas (vs. green) but they're not always easy to find. As I searched the dried pea/bean shelf at Byerly's, I thought I was facing a yellow-pea fail until I spotted a bag of whole yellow peas. Labeled Lars Own: Yellow Peas for Swedish Style Yellow Pea Soup, I picked up the bag and started reading (who could resist that name?). With a great story about how yellow pea soup is a traditional Swedish Thursday dinner, and an interesting recipe calling for pork ribs instead of ham or bacon, with a garnish of mustard no less, I was all over it. I tossed the peas in my cart, swung by the meat counter for pork ribs, and made my way home.
The cooking process for the whole peas is the same as for dried beans, requiring a soak to soften them up before simmering. The recipe doesn't call for it, but I browned the ribs before adding the water - you might have noticed that I never pass up the flavor of browned pork. Pork! Anyhow, as the soup simmers, the peas shed their skins, the soup becomes pleasantly (not overly) thick, the pork almost melts into the broth, and the result is seriously fantastic. I'm not convinced whole peas are necessary, but I am very, very sold on the pork ribs idea, unbelievably good. Tuck that concept into the back of your mind for the next time you're planning a batch of split pea or navy bean soup. (I found the whole peas at Byerly's and see they're available on the Lars Own website.) I assume this soup freezes beautifully (like split pea and navy bean soups do).
In case you're wondering about the planter pics...look closely, there's a duck nesting in it! Crazy chick - I've named her Wanda - right there in the open, yet nicely camouflaged so maybe she's on to something. We keep Puppy Louis (relatively) away from her, hopefully that's all it will take for Wanda to hatch ducklings right outside our front door. Stay tuned...
Swedish Style Yellow Pea Soup
Adapted from Lars Own yellow peas package
1 lb. dried yellow peas (whole or split)
1 lb. pork ribs
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried marjoram or thyme
3 tsp. salt (probably more) and freshly ground pepper
Rinse peas and soak overnight in 5 cups water. Drain peas in a colander. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, then ribs, and brown ribs thoroughly. Remove ribs to a plate and add onion, garlic, and herbs to the pot and saute until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and pork to the pot with 2 quarts of water and the salt. Cover and simmer over low heat (or in a 225-degree F oven) for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until shells of the peas split and the peas are very soft. Remove the pork from the bones (discard bones), shred into small pieces, and return pork to the soup. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper as necessary. Serve with Swedish style (brown) mustard and freshly ground pepper.