Two soup recipes in a row. This is either a very good thing or a not-so-good thing, but I’m going with it. You see, I make a lot of soups. I don’t know who said it, but I heard somewhere that a true test of a good cook is their soup. I believe that so much, I order soup in restaurants just to judge the quality of the food. If the soup is mediocre, you can bet the food is too. It’s really easy to make a good soup. So if you screw that up, well. You’re not very good at what you do.
Split pea soup with smoked turkey is a very basic recipe. It’s really easy to make, economical and comforting. Swapping the usual ham for smoked turkey gives you a lighter soup, with delicate chunks of turkey throughout. If you haven’t had it this way, and are a split pea fan, you will love this soup. I’m so confident, I say you’ll love this soup even if you aren’t a split pea fan.
When I lived in Paso Robles, CA, I would drive by billboards on the highway advertising Anderson’s, “Home of the Pea Soup”. I found it odd this was a big selling point, but it turns out Anderson’s is a big roadside attraction, around since 1924. They offer unlimited bowls of split pea soup, so I had to try it out. I have to admit, (sorry). I tried the soup and wasn’t very impressed. It has no chunks of yummy things in it.
This soup has lots of yummy chunks. Potatoes, onion, carrot, celery and turkey are hiding in a sea of peas. It’s like a treasure hunt in every bite. Did I just write that?
Serving Size: 5-6 servings
Adapted from Parker’s Split Pea Soup
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook until soft and translucent, 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, bay leaves, turkey and half of the peas. Cover with water and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, skimming off the foam until it stops forming. Cover and cook for 40 minutes on low heat.
Stir in the potatoes and remaining peas. Cover and continue to cook another 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, remove the turkey and check for seasoning. Add salt if needed.
Remove the skin from the turkey and discard. Remove the meat from the bone and shred or chop into small pieces. Add the meat to the soup (you may have extra if you are using a leg). Serve with crusty bread and extra fresh pepper.
As my little guy is getting older (10 months now), he’s making it very clear what he likes and doesn’t like. His opinion can change in a few hours or a few weeks, so I’ve learned to be flexible. Lately, he’s grown very suspicious of anything I put in his mouth with a spoon. He developed this distrust from the premade organic baby meals I give him when we are traveling. They are often very sweet, and he seems to prefer savory (and may be more accustomed to homemade foods). When I offer him a spoonful of baby food, he sticks out his tongue for one tiny taste. If he doesn’t approve, my chances of getting him to eat whatever I’m trying to get him to eat are shot.
I’m happy to say this homemade baby food recipe for chicken and peas passes his little taste test every time. Flavorful roasted chicken thighs, paired with creamy yellow potatoes, carrots and lots of fresh green peas make for a yummy and healthy meal.
I use chicken thighs (skin removed) instead of chicken breasts in my baby food for a few good reasons; more flavor, more tenderness and a lower price tag. If that’s not enough, according to a recent study by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine, dark meat in poultry “contains many more nutrients. In addition to taurine, dark meat is far richer in minerals such as iron, zinc and selenium, as well as vitamins A, K and the B complex — B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) B6, B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamin).”
You can make this baby food recipe as smooth or chunky as your little one likes. If you are looking for a very fine puree, cook the peas and veggies a little longer. Then, using a blender or food processor, run the machine on high for 2 minutes, adding liquid as necessary to really get those blades moving. For a super-fine texture, pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer afterward. For older babies who are eating textured foods, you can leave the frozen peas uncooked. Just thaw them and add them to the food processor. Your baby or toddler will appreciate the sweet freshness.
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C
Roast the chicken thighs, skin on, for 30-40 minutes, until brown and cooked through. Allow to cool.
While the chicken is roasting, add olive oil to a saucepan. Sauté onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes, then add the carrot, potato, garlic powder and optional vegetables and/or herbs. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes, until very tender. Add the peas to the pot during the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Remove the skin from the chicken and separate the meat from the bone. Add the chicken and cooked vegetables to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth, adding the cooking liquid from the vegetables until you reach the desired consistency.
In late Spring, you may be lucky enough to find fresh English peas in the market. Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to taste peas fresh instead of frozen or canned. They take a little extra work, but are worth the effort. My favorite way to eat them is straight from the pod. Just pop them open and scoop the sweet, raw peas into your mouth. My mom would let us eat them in the shopping cart at the market and it was always a treat. When buying them, make sure the pods are green and plump. Buy more than you think you need, as you’ll only get 8-10 peas per pod.
Fresh peas are amazing cooked as well, like in this recipe for English peas and bacon. The sweet peas are even sweeter paired with salty bacon. It makes for a wonderful side dish with just about anything. I served this dish for my husband, who had never eaten them fresh. They were gobbled up very quickly. Almost too quickly, because that was the end of the season. Now we need to wait another year before they show up again.
Yield: Serves 4
In a saucepan, boil peas in water until they are slightly soft and bright green, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from water and set aside.
Saute bacon pieces until crisp and brown, then remove from pan, leaving a few teaspoons of fat in the pan. Cook shallots and sugar in the bacon fat until shallots are soft. Return peas and bacon to the pan and season with salt and pepper.