Soup: Good for Memories

It’s that time of year again: Jackets, sweaters, long pants, and soup.

During the cold months, soup is one of the seasonal foods I make. Sure, occasionally I’ll make cold gazpacho or cucumber soup in the summer, but soup-making is a fall and winter kitchen pursuit for me. Give me czarnina (a Polish duck soup) or Dad’s oxtail soup on a chilly November day!

I grew up on the northwest side of Chicago in a time where, if Mom and Dad weren’t from the Old Country, at least Grandma and Grandpa were. It was from these generations that I learned how to cook and bake, and today I cherish the originals and copies of old family recipes.

Then there’s Pope’s cookbook from Antoinette Pope’s Cooking School in Chicago. Generally, it was the cooking bible in my family for anything outside of our Polish cuisine heritage. I wrote about it last year in “The Cook Book.”

Enough of the reminiscing; let’s get back to now.

Last weekend, I bought a large bone-in ham. I sliced and froze enough of the meat for sandwiches and ham salad. What was left were the bone and portions that aren’t good for much of anything but split pea soup. It turned out good, except I didn’t add enough split peas to make the soup a rich green. I misjudged. Nonetheless, it tasted good.

One of the best things I like on days I make soup, or bake cookies or bread from scratch (is there any other way?), is the way the house smells with all the sweet and savory aromas and herb fragrances that bring my thoughts back to childhood, when my parents made all those wonderful foods we kids grew up on.

Good times. Good food. Fabulous memories.

“From Pot to Bowl”

To make this soup:

Ingredients
Ham bone, with some meat left on
1 bay leaf
1 cup ham, cut into small cubes
1/2 bag split peas, rinsed and soaked overnight in warm water
2 carrots, washed and cut into cubes
6 peppercorns
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
Flour, about 1 or 2 Tablespoons
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In large pot, place ham bone, add bay leaf, and cover with cold water. Simmer 1-1/2 hours. Skim off any scum that forms on top.
2. Remove from heat and place in refrigerator overnight.
3. The next day — Skim off fat that formed on soup’s surface and remove ham bone. Strain broth to remove any pieces of fat, unwanted bone, and bay leaf. Return broth to washed, clean pot.
4. Place on stove over low flame. Add split peas, carrots, peppercorns; simmer 1 hour, or until peas are soft and carrots are cooked.
5. Make roux:
In separate saucepan, melt butter. Add onions; sauté until clear and tender. Turn off flame. Add flour to make roux, adding a little of the soup broth to make a smooth paste. Add to soup.
6. Add ham cubes; heat through.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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