Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yellow split-pea "chili"

Fog enveloped Portland all day today.

I worked from home today, busily typing away, creating syntax files. These syntax files will soon be used to analyze my dissertation data, once I finally have enough participants. It has been a long time coming, but I am finally collecting data.

The fog drifted in and out, but mostly stayed in. As I ate my lunch (a sandwich made from delicious home-made gluten-free bread!), I watched the fog swirl around and nearly hide the tops of the apartment towers nearby. It's been chilly and drizzly all week.

It seems like Portland has turned yet another, chillier, rainier corner.

I've been padding around lately in my slippers and big sweatshirts and sweaters, trying to keep warm. Even the cats have been tucking their noses under paws and tails to keep them warm, and Rosie hasn't left my side all day. Seriously – ALL DAY.

And, I am amazed I made it out on my run this evening. I looked outside at the growing darkness and the haze created by blowing mist and it looked daunting. Good thing I had friends waiting for me, expecting me. Once I was out there, the wind, rain, and even the hill were no big deal (at least until my knees started to whine at me). I am always amazed at how some of the most seemingly daunting tasks really are pretty easy, once you just bring yourself to do them.

I've been enjoying the return of hot tea season and the enormous variety of herbal teas in my tea cupboard. Ben just gave me my third cup of the day. Did you know, by the way, that Republic of Tea is certified gluten free? I did a little dance of joy at my desk when I discovered that. I love their teas and, of course, I own many.

I've also been enjoying the return of the soup season.

I cooked up a batch of yellow split-pea soup this week, which was one of those recipes that come out of desire to use up something I've had lurking in my cupboards for a while. These recipes are almost always an exercise in “what else do I have in my kitchen I should use up?” My answer this time was celery, green onion, and fontina cheese.

I really wanted this soup to be hearty. I really wanted a good substitute for the chili I cannot eat (tomatoes are no good to me right now). It turned out delicious enough to share. I'm calling it a "chili" only because it's my chili stand-in for now.

Yellow split-pea "chili":

2 cups dry yellow split peas, cleaned and rinsed well

3 cups water and bouillon (I use Herb-ox because it's gluten free and sodium free) or 3 cups broth
1 cup diced celery
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika
black pepper
sea salt
1 can white beans (great northern or cannellini beans)
olive oil

Garnish each serving with (optional):
a sprinkling of additional paprika
about a tablespoon chopped green onion
a few small cubes of firm cheese (I used a Danish Fontina)
a few kalamata olives, chopped

Fill a large stock pot with water and add the peas. Bring to a boil over high heat and then turn the heat down to simmer for about an hour, until peas are tender. Drain and set peas aside.

In the same pot, heat a few tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and saute the onions and celery. Add the garlic just as the celery and onions begin to soften and cook for a couple minutes more.

Add the water or the broth and bring to a boil. (add the bouillon here if that is what you are using). Reduce heat to a simmer and add the peas.

Ladle about 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup into your blender and blend until smooth. (You may have to do this in batches).

Return the blended soup to the pot and mix well. Add the beans and allow soup to simmer for a few minutes, to get everything nice and hot.

Season with the Spanish paprika and some freshly grated black pepper. Add sea salt, a bit at a time, until the flavors begin to come together.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the garnishes above.


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