Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"The Underground Gourmet Cookbook" - Split Pea Soup

Date I made this recipe: November 5, 2007

The Underground Gourmet Cookbook by Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder, edited by Joyce Zonana
Published by: Simon and Schuster
© 1975
Recipe: Split Pea Soup – p. 236

Sometimes the cover of the book is what sells it. In this case, it was the men in plainclothes (one in sunglasses - love it!), looking suspiciously like CIA operatives, standing amongst some of the chefs featured in this book that did it for me. Indeed, the subtitle of this book is “Over 250 Exciting Recipes for the Home Cook from the Best Inexpensive Ethnic Restaurants Discovered by Milton Glaser & Jerome Snyder)." I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Just out of curiosity on this cold, windy and (can you believe it?) snowy day in Minneapolis (not even enough for ground cover but enough in the air to depress the heck out of me), I hit the internet to see how many of the 72 restaurants listed in this book are still in business and to my surprise, 10 are still standing. That’s not too bad considering the often short life of restaurants, the fact that New York City in particular chews them up and spits them out and the book was written 32 years ago.

Sadly, the restaurant that produced my Split Pea Soup, La Potagerie, formerly located at 554 Fifth Avenue in New York, was not one of the survivors despite the fact that Jacques Pepin was once the executive chef. But leave it to a Frenchman to come up with a very tasty split pea soup, just right for a cold day. La Potagerie may not be around but pea soup lives forever!

Split Pea Soup – Serves 8 to 10
¾ pound bacon, chopped coarsely
1 ½ pounds split peas
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onions
2 10 ¾ ounce cans each of condensed or concentrated beef broth and chicken broth (I used only chicken since I had it on hand)
2 leeks, sliced
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons grated horseradish

Place half of bacon in a baking tray and brown in the oven.

Place peas, potatoes, onions, celery, broth, leeks, salt, pepper, thyme and remaining bacon in a kettle. Add enough water to reach approximately 1 ½ inches above the ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2/1 hours. Add water if the liquid evaporates too quickly. Mix every 10 minutes with a whisk to avoid scorching.

When the soup is cooked, whip with the whisk or use an electric beater to break down the potatoes and peas into smooth soup. Add the browned bacon and cook another 10 minutes. Add the horseradish.

To serve, garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon each of chopped celery and grated Swiss cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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