CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Pea Soup, Quebec-Style

I like hearty soups. They can be full of all kinds of vegetables ― and meat (or not), too. It doesn’t matter.

Usually, no two soups of mine are alike, since I save all sorts of vegetable stock ― i.e. liquid from mashed potatoes or any vegetables that have been steamed, blanched, etc. ― as well as broth made from chicken, beef or wild game bones.

As a kid, my dad was the soup-maker in our house. His vegetable beef soup and bean soup were always a big hit with the family. He probably made two or three other soups, but not once do I recall him making pea soup.

Pea soup has been around for millennia. The ancient Romans and Greeks were known to serve pea soup. And worldwide travelers probably ate their share of pea soup, too, since the round little vegetable and other legumes such as beans could survive long ocean voyages.

Soups made with dried peas are one of the most nutritious around, since the tiny veggie is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber and also provides good to excellent amounts of five important minerals, three B-vitamins, and protein — all with virtually no fat. (Dried peas also contain isflavones ― notably daidzein ― whose dietary consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of certain health conditions, including breast and prostate cancer.)

Some would say that pea soup is an acquired taste, kind of like raw oysters, today’s food du jour, kale, or liver and onions. At least it was for me.

But it wasn’t until I tried the following recipe that the words “tasty pea soup” rolled off my tongue.

I discovered the recipe on a Twitter tweet from PBS promoting food writer and filmmaker Aube Giroux’s  farm-to-table blog, “Kitchen Vignettes,” which has been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards for Best Video Webcast. (She also was the recipient of Saveur Magazine’s Best Food Blog award in the video category in 2012).

Aube is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates. On this particular tweet, her recipe for Quebec-Style Yellow Pea Soup was shared.

After doing a little more research, I found out that the soup is traditional favorite in Canada, and often is called “Habitant Pea Soup.” It seems there a few variations of the recipe, but it is generally thought that it originated with the French explorer Samuel de Champlain in the 1600s.

I’ll bet that was a stick-to-your ribs meal!

Quebec-Style Yellow Pea Soup
2 cups whole yellow dry peas (or 2½ cups split peas if you can’t find whole peas)
2 medium carrots, finely chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
1 medium leek , finely chopped (about 1½ cup chopped)
1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1½ cup chopped)
3 tablespoons butter
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
1 small smoked pork hock or ham bone with meat on it (optional)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley (optional)
If using split peas, there’s no need to soak, so skip this step. If using whole peas, place them in a large bowl, and cover them by 3 inches of water. Cover and soak the peas for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse; set aside.
In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, cook the onions in the butter until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and leek and cook, stirring occasionally until all the vegetables have softened and are fragrant, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth, pork hock, drained peas, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot and simmer, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes, until the peas are completely soft and tender, about 2 to 3 hours. Add water if necessary to achieve the desired consistency. (The soup should be quite thick). If a ham hock was used, it can be removed and the meat around it chopped and returned to the soup. Season to taste, with salt and pepper and stir well. Serve hot, with fresh chopped parsley.

One thought on “CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Pea Soup, Quebec-Style”

  • Helen Murphy March 31, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Looks and sounds good. I grew up eating homemade soup. My mom made a pea soup using the whole dried green peas and ham bone. The whole peas are hard to find but she never used the split peas. I make soup frequently but not pea soup. I might have to try and find a bag now that I know how healthy it is.


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