Hearty Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup with Fried Egg  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Split Pea Soup with Fried Egg | Image: Laura Messersmith

I originally wrote this post pre November 8th and couldn’t bring myself to publish it until now. I honestly felt silly writing about food and cooking after such a disappointing and troubling election outcome (understatement.) But, we will need nourishment for the struggle and if any recipe could offer that it’s this one. So without further apology…

It’s beginning to feel more and more wintery – the wind is whipping, the wool sweater brigade is in full effect, and I’ve found myself Pinning holiday ideas even though the Halloween candy hasn’t been distributed. While in some ways I wish I could hold off the really frigid part of winter, there’s something so cozy about a blustery, wet day.

I’d love to return home to a fire crackling away, but since our apartment doesn’t run to wood-burning fire places (probably for the best) instead I’ve been on the hunt for new soups and stews to lend that necessary warmth. I’ve been scouring the Bon Appetit archives and finding so many treasures that I think my cookbook collection is starting to feel neglected. So be it, because this soup is too good to keep to myself.

Split Pea Soup with Fried Egg  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Split Pea Soup with Fried Egg | Image: Laura Messersmith

The humble combination of green split peas and potatoes are elevated by a rich blend of onions, leeks, and garlic; and studded with bits of smoky ham. It’s a healthful, satisfying dish that rewards the patient cook, but amazingly requires minimal hands-on time. As with other slow-cooked recipes, this soup only grows in power overnight, so make extra.

Full disclosure: the first time I made this recipe I completely misjudged the amount of liquid needed and ended up with more of a split pea hash than soup. I was afraid that I had completely ruined a perfectly good soup, but a quick taste revealed that the flavors were wonderful and tasted even better when topped with a fried egg. Highly recommend this approach when serving!

Split Pea Soup with Fried Egg  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Split Pea Soup with Fried Egg | Image: Laura Messersmith

Hearty Split Pea Soup (serves 6-8)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (1 medium) chopped onion
1 cup (2 medium) chopped leeks, white and pale-green parts only
1/2 cup (2 stalks) chopped celery
2 tablespoons (4 cloves) minced garlic
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups (2 medium) small diced Yukon Gold potatoes
1/3 pound (1 cup) minced smoked ham
8 fresh thyme stems
2 bay leaves
2 cups (16 ounces) dried green split peas
8 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth

Instructions:
Prepare the vegetables, chopping the onion, leeks, and celery into fine dice and mincing the cloves of garlic.

In a large French oven, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the vegetables and sauté for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent. Season with a sprinkle of kosher salt, about 1/2 teaspoon.

Meanwhile, wash the potatoes and cut into small dice (no need to remove the skins!) and finely mince the ham. Add the potatoes and the minced ham to the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes until the potatoes begin to soften. Season with another 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper.

Tie the thyme stems together with kitchen twine (it will make them easier to remove later) and add to the pot along with the bay leaves, dried split peas, and chicken broth.

Increase the temperature to medium-high and bring the soup up to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours stirring occasionally to keep the soup from burning or sticking. The soup is ready when the potatoes are very soft and have begun to break down and thicken the broth. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems. Serve with toasted rye croutons, a dollop of sour cream, a fried egg, or parmesan toast.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
100%. I used a large French oven (5.5qt), a chef’s knife, medium cutting board, measuring cups and spoons, along with a flat sided wooden spoon. That’s it!

Split Pea Soup with Fried Egg  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Split Pea Soup with Fried Egg | Image: Laura Messersmith

Cannellini Beans with Spinach

Cannellini Beans with Spinach  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Cannellini Beans with Spinach | Image: Laura Messersmith

After an odd few days of 80 degree temperatures in New York we’re back to the weather I associate most with late October. Weather more in the vein of “a dark and stormy night” full of windy breezes that swirl the leaves and pulse with energy straight from Ghostbusters.

It’s days like today that absolutely call for something simple, warming, and earthy. A dinner that calls to mind the safety of hearth and home; simmering merrily on the stovetop through the afternoon then bringing family to gather around the table. As written this is a dish reminiscent of a Tuscan stew – creamy beans, bright lemon, leafy spinach – but with a bit more chicken stock could easily translate into a wintery soup. Even better? With just a quick swap in of vegetable stock for the broth you’ll have a fantastic main course that I’d be proud to serve to any vegetarian.

Cannellini Beans with Spinach  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Cannellini Beans with Spinach | Image: Laura Messersmith

Stews always improve with a bit of time to think about what they’ve done, and so this is also a dish that I would absolutely make extras of and squirrel away in the freezer for use this winter when something cozy is just the ticket. Perfect with a slice of crusty bread toasted and rubbed with garlic or a sprinkle of parmesan melted on top.

Cannellini Beans with Spinach (serves: 8)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise; plus 2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 sage leaves
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bunches mature spinach, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions:
Place the dried beans in a large French oven or bowl and cover with double the amount of water. Cover and allow to soak for 16-24 hours at room temperature.

Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Bring beans, head of garlic, sage, 3 tablespoonsolive oil, and 6 cups chicken broth to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat, add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and simmer gently until beans are creamy all the way through but skins are still intact, 35–45 minutes. Some of the beans will break down slightly and thicken the broth. Let cool while you move onto the spinach.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large deep sauté pan over medium. Cook crushed garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring, just until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Working in batches, add spinach, letting it wilt slightly before adding more, and cook, tossing often, until leaves are just wilted, about 5 minutes; season with salt.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer beans to sauté pan with spinach and cook, tossing gently, until beans are warmed through. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup bean cooking liquid and toss, adding more cooking liquid if needed, until coated. The mixture should be closer to a sauce than a soup in consistency. Be careful not to over cook or the beans will begin to break down. Taste and season with salt as needed. Serve drizzled with oil and a slice of toasted crusty bread.

Do Ahead: Beans can be cooked 3 days ahead. Keep in cooking liquid; cover and chill. Cook spinach and seasonings when ready to serve.

Re-written and lightly adapted from Bon Appetit’s Cannellini Beans with Spinach by Rita Sodi & Jody Williams.

Cannellini Beans with Spinach  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Cannellini Beans with Spinach | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a 6 qt. French oven, large deep sauté pan, fine mesh sieve, medium cutting board, chef’s knife, liquid measuring cup, slotted spoon, microplane grater, and measuring spoons.

Cannellini Beans with Spinach  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Cannellini Beans with Spinach | Image: Laura Messersmith

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage | Image: Laura Messersmith

Am I the only one who’s just now realizing how delicious (and frankly, super simple to make) pork chops are? They’re quickly becoming my favorite thing to make for quick weeknight suppers, special occasions, when guests are coming to dinner. In part that’s because they’re a little unexpected – not your standard chicken or obvious “fancy” steak. It’s also because when a pork chop, especially a really flavorful, bone-in cut, is prepared simply it’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Case in point, just read the ingredient list below – I’d be willing to bet that the only items not on hand are the meat and the herbs, everything else is almost certainly in the pantry already, just waiting to be called into action. But don’t be fooled – just because the recipe is brief doesn’t mean it’s ordinary or boring. In fact the results are deeply savory and satisfying – just right for a chilly October evening.

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage | Image: Laura Messersmith

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Garlic & Sage (serves: 4)

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (6-8 ounce) thick-cut, bone-in pork chops
Kosher salt
ground black pepper
8 fresh sage leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and season generously on all sides with salt and pepper.

When the oil is hot and beginning to smoke, add the pork chops to the pan. Cook on one side until golden brown, about 1 minute. The turn and repeat the process on the other side, cooking for 1 minute. Continue to turn each minute for about 7–10 minutes until the chops are deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 135 degrees F.

Remove pan from heat and immediately add the sage, garlic, and butter. Swirl together the juices and aromatics, then tilt the skillet and spoon the pan sauce over the pork chops – bone and fat cap included – for 2-3 minutes. Transfer pork chops to a platter and rest at least 5 minutes - the internal temperature will rise to 145 degrees F.

Serve immediately with juices from the pan spooned over the top.

Re-written and lightly adapted Bon Appetit’s Your New Favorite Pork Chop by Alison Roman.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a large sauté pan, tongs, medium cutting board, large spoon, chef’s knife, and paper towels.

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage | Image: Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Pork Chops with Garlic and Sage | Image: Laura Messersmith

One-Bowl Guacamole Greens

Guacamole Greens Salad  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Guacamole Greens Salad | Image: Laura Messersmith

I have a theory that the Super Bowl is the late winter, sports-centric version of Thanksgiving. Roll with me for a minute – it’s a date established well in advance, guaranteed to inspire water cooler “What are you doing for X?” conversations, when people gather together over a buffet of decadent treats coupled with license to over-indulge in comfort foods we don’t eat the rest of the year, oh and by the way there’s a hotly anticipated football game.

Tell me that doesn’t sound exactly like Thanksgiving, and if I had to guess, whether you bleed neon turquoise or never heard of Peyton Manning before, you probably are coming out of a pigs in a blanket induced coma, or like me are wondering what possessed you to eat an avalanche of Nacho Cheese Doritos.

Which brings me to the present moment, time to re-group and balance out with something bright, fresh, and (thank goodness) delicious. I continue to be obsessed with sweetgreen and I’m a huge fan of their Guacamole Greens salad, so of course I had to try to make it at home. At risk of sounding smug I think I nailed it.

The baby kale is both tender enough to eat right away and tough enough to be dressed in advance and still retain its crunch, while the red onion, avocado, and lime juice mingle to evoke all that’s awesome about guacamole. Super easy to ramp up the proportions for a group or make an individual serving. Keep this one in your back pocket.

Guacamole Greens Salad   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Guacamole Greens Salad | Image: Laura Messersmith

“Guacamole” Greens (serves 4 as an entrée)

Ingredients:
1  1/2 - 2 pounds chicken breast, bone-in skin-on
10 ounces baby kale leaves
2 ripe Haas avocados, large diced
8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
5 tablespoons minced red onion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 tablespoons (2 medium limes) freshly squeezed lime juice
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Coarse ground black pepper

Instructions:
Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and place skin side up on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the skin with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper.

Roast at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer.

When the chicken is done, set aside to cool.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and dice the meat in large pieces, about 1/2 inch. Set aside while you prep the vegetables.

Place the kale leaves in a large mixing bowl. Slice the cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters, finely mince the red onion, open the avocados and dice into large pieces placing each prepared ingredient in the bowl with the kale. Next, add the cilantro leaves and diced, cooled chicken to the salad.

Finally, squeeze the limes over the salad, then sprinkle with 3 teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Toss all the ingredients together until evenly distributed and coated with the seasonings. The avocado will soften slightly and combine with the lime juice, salt and pepper to form the dressing.

Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference. Best if served immediately, but will also hold dressed in the refrigerator overnight.

Guacamole Greens Salad   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Guacamole Greens Salad | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a rimmed baking sheet, large mixing bowl, medium cutting board, chef’s knife, measuring spoons, and a large wooden mixing spoon.

The Verdict:
As I was testing and fiddling with the final seasonings we ate this salad four times in less than a week. Normally grounds for complaint from my chief taste-tester who likes a bit more variety in his dinners, but this time not a peep even on the fourth night. We both love guacamole seasoned with plenty of zingy lime and a generous sprinkle of salt and this salad fits the bill 100% while still providing a healthy and satisfying meal. A definite go-to from now on.

Guacamole Greens Salad   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Guacamole Greens Salad | Image: Laura Messersmith