split pea soup with ancho chiles brings smoky flavor
that warms you on cold days.
cold weather, I perk up simple suppers with a bit of smoke
— that delicious flavor addition we associate with the
grilling days of summer. I would happily enjoy smoked or
grilled foods every day. Ditto for homemade soup. Melding
the two together proves a match.
are two soups with subtle smoke flavors from smoked
proteins, such as ham, turkey or fish. Sure to beat the
cold-weather blues no matter where you live.
family, a leftover holiday hambone tucked away in the
freezer means a pot of split pea soup later. A smoky bone,
with plenty of meat still clinging, transforms the lowly pea
into a satisfying one-pot meal that’s part soup/part stew.
Lacking a hambone, I’ll purchase smoked ham hocks from the
meat case in large supermarkets or order hocks in advance
from the butcher. Smoked turkey drumsticks work well here
too. Whatever bone you choose, any meat that clings to them
will render soft when nestled in with the peas, broth and
vegetables. I dice the tender meat and add it back to the
soup before serving.
days, I usually opt for yellow split peas in my soup rather
than green — my audience holds them in higher regard. I
think it’s a color thing. To underscore the pea’s
natural sweetness and color, I add carrots and sweet potato.
second recipe is inspired by a soup I enjoyed at my uncle’s
French bistro in Connecticut — a classic, creamy
cauliflower soup surprisingly topped with a smoked fish
toast. Guy, the chef, topped crusty toasted slices of French
baguette with whipped cheese and thin curls of smoked
salmon. Bites of the toast between spoonfuls of soup took
the bite out of a wintry evening.
soup proves super easy to make — simply combine everything
in the pot, and simmer until the cauliflower is soft.
Chopping the cauliflower takes a bit of time, but frozen
cauliflower florets can stand in if that helps. For a
meatless soup, I use a rich vegetable broth made with
lightly roasted onions.
course, you can skip the smoked fish toasts and simply serve
the soup topped with crunchy croutons and a shower of fresh
herbs. Floating a dollop of whipped creme fraiche or plain
Greek yogurt and a swirl of fruity olive oil is another way
of the pleasure of eating well-made soup is the add-ons that
accompany the bowl. At home, I think about swirling in
flavorful oil or pesto, chili paste or chopped fresh herbs
for another level of flavor. I think about crunch, too, for
a textural element. Not just croutons, but fried onions,
crumbled toasted chiles, roasted nuts.
good soup starts with good broth. While I do take pleasure
in simmering bones and a few vegetables in water, packaged
broth in the grocery store saves time. I look for brands
with clean labels, no preservatives and that are made with
real ingredients. Check the freezer, too, as there are
several good options there now. I really like to use the
homemade broth sold at the local butcher shop.
cooking for chilly weather, but with the subtle flavors of
YELLOW SPLIT PEA SOUP WITH CRISPY ANCHOS
1 1/4 hours
(16 ounces) yellow split peas
tablespoons olive oil
large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, sliced into
large sweet potato, about 1 pound, peeled, cut into ˝-inch
celery rib, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
large onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
cloves garlic, crushed
quarts vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth
small ham hocks or shanks, about 1 to 1 ˝ pounds (or smoked
2 to 3
cups diced smoked ham or smoked turkey breast, optional
freshly ground black pepper
cup expeller pressed canola, sunflower or safflower oil
dried ancho chiles, cored, seeded, each torn into 4 pieces
medium shallots, halved, very thinly sliced
cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
teaspoon cumin seeds
zest of 1 orange
Greek yogurt or sour cream, optional
Rinse split peas in a colander and check them for stones or
pebbles. Heat olive oil in the bottom of a large 4-quart
saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots, sweet potato, celery
and onion. Cook and stir, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, rinsed
peas and broth. Nestle the ham hocks into the pot. Heat to a
simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring often, over
medium-low heat, until the peas are tender and falling
apart, about 1 hour.
Remove the ham hocks, chop any meat on them (no fat or
gristle) and return the meat to the soup. Stir in the
optional ham. Taste the soup, and adjust seasonings with
salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, for the soup topping, heat canola oil in small
heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Use tongs to toast
ancho pieces in the oil for just a few seconds, until they
change color and start to crisp. Drain on paper toweling.
When cool, use your fingers to roughly crumble the chiles
into small pieces.
shallots to the canola oil. Cook and stir over low heat
until shallots are tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in garlic
and cumin seeds. Cook another minute or so until fragrant.
Remove from heat and cool. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, plenty
of black pepper and the orange zest.
Serve the soup in warm bowls with a dollop of the yogurt,
some of the shallot-cumin oil and crumbled anchos. Sprinkle
information per serving: 480 calories, 18 g fat, 2 g
saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 64 g carbohydrates, 15 g
sugar, 18 protein, 242 mg sodium, 21 g fiber
CAULIFLOWER SOUP WITH SMOKED FISH TOASTS
10 cups, 6 servings
small or 1 large head (about 3 pounds total) cauliflower,
outer leaves removed
medium (9 ounces total) golden potatoes, peeled, diced
large sweet onion, diced
cloves garlic, crushed
quarts low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
cup whipping cream or creme fraiche
teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly ground pepper to taste
slices (each 1/4-inch thick) French baguette, about 6 ounces
2 to 4
tablespoons olive oil
ounces cream cheese, softened
2 or 3
ounces smoked salmon, crumbled into large pieces
a large knife to cut cauliflower heads in half. Cut out the
tough cores and discard. Roughly chop the florets. Put
chopped cauliflower, potatoes, onion and garlic into the
bottom of a large (4 or 5-quart) Dutch oven. Add broth. Heat
to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover loosely, and cook
until vegetables are fall-apart tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
an immersion blender to puree soup. (Or puree soup in small
batches in a blender.) Add cream and cayenne; heat soup to a
simmer. Season soup with salt and pepper.
While soup simmers, make the toasts: Heat oven to 375
degrees. Brush both sides of the bread slices with oil and
place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, turning
bread slices over, until golden and crispy, about 10
Spread cream cheese over toasts while they are still warm.
Top with a few pieces of salmon and a sprinkle of chives.
Serve bowls of soup sprinkled with chives and accompanied by
information per serving: 316 calories, 14 g fat, 6 g
saturated fat, 28 mg cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrates, 4 g
sugar, 12 protein, 447 mg sodium, 4 g fiber