What’s the Scoop on Split Pea Soup?

P6130013Have you ever wondered why they call the delicious concoction pictured here “split pea soup”?

Can’t you just picture someone taking a tool and splitting the peas in half on an old wooden cutting board before putting them into the soup kettle?

Actually, that’s not quite how it works. “Split peas” are actually pea (Pisum sativum) seeds that have been dried, peeled and split.  This is done long before they meet their demise in our soup kettles.  The splitting process for these little round nutritional nuggets can be done by hand or machine after they are dried and their outer skins, which are dull in color, are removed.  The low fat content and high protein and fiber quantities make them a healthy ingredient.

Here at St. Anne’s, we don’t have to wait for National Split Pea Soup Week (early November) to come around to enjoy split pea soup; we have it once every five weeks as a regular part of our Tuesday evening supper menu.

Around the world, the color of peas used in this soup varies a bit.

You may think of pea soup as an old-fashioned type of comfort food, but do you know just how old it is?  As a matter of fact, it’s old enough to be mentioned in a Greek comedy from back in 414 BC.

Our main cook, Lori, definitely hasn’t been here that long, but in her years of experience, she has perfected the art of making a delicious pot of split pea soup.  Should we share her secrets?

She starts with split peas, water, and 2 tablespoons of ham base as well as 2 of chicken base.  She lets this cook and adds bacon bits to the pea broth.  When it is about ready, her last ingredient is non-dairy creamer mixed with water.  (She finds that if it is not premixed with water the creamer can form clumps in the soup.)

Consequently, the only ham meat you’ll get here on ‘pea soup night’ is that on the deli sandwiches that accompany the hot, savory, green substance our residents and staff love .

Even Hermey the Elf in the ’60s classic clay-mation film Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer thought pea soup was noteworthy.  For, along with ‘the most famous reindeer of all,” don’t you also recall his memorable meteorological exclamation about fog as thick as pea soup!?

Maddie’s cooking! 🙂


Coming up….National Chili Day (February 26)

By Sister Christina Neumann

A visitor to our Home recently commented to our residents about having to “put up with institutional” cooking, but I really don’t think that applies at St. Anne’s.  Among other things, we have some of the best chili around.  As we approach “National Chili Day,” I thought I’d give a little information about this delicious meal and share a recipe.

P1010003People have been enjoying chili for a long time; The first recorded recipe for chili con carne was in 1519 (nationalchiliday.com quoted Wikipedia for this info.).  Did you know that “a green chili pod has as much vitamin C as six oranges?”   And, what is there, better than chili, for opening up plugged sinuses?

According to an article on the health benefits of chili, “the main component in chillies is a chemical called Capsaicin, which…lowers blood sugar levels, improves heart health, boosts circulation and protects against strokes…”  Chilies also  “can help burn fat.”  Chili powder itself has some interesting health benefits listed here. It a good source of vitamin A and C as well as some important minerals, according to livestrong.com.

I’ve been enjoying chili for years.  We used to make it back home.  The recipe used here at St. Anne’s would probably make you a much bigger batch than you’d care for (we serve a lot of people), so I’m sharing with you the “Neumann Chili Recipe.”  I had to contact my mom for details, since I remember just throwing it together without any real recipe.

Hamburger Chili
2  pounds hamburger
1  large diced onion
1  tablespoon salt (or to taste)
3  Tablespoons chili powder
1  can tomato sauce or soup
2  14 oz. diced tomatoes (canned)*
3  15 oz. cans kidney** beans drained
Brown hamburger with onion.  Add spices and the rest of ingredients.  Let cook for at least half an hour. (Simmering on low for a while longer enhances the flavor.)
Great served with grated cheddar, onions, sour cream, and corn chips.
*Instead of the tomato soup and diced tomatoes, I remember using frozen, home-grown tomatoes.  It is fun to pull bags of tomatoes out of the freezer (that you froze the last Fall) to use in this delicious chili.
**We actually used a few different kinds of beans, which enhanced the recipe.
I have found that adding cumin and garlic powder really adds nice flavor as well.