Everything looks classier with a bay leaf jammed in it.
Whenever I make something new for dinner, I play a little linguistic game with my spouse: Describe the Foreign Vegetarian Dish in Non-Threatening Familiar Words! This game is a big hit and is absolutely vital to the success of not only the meal, nay, but my marriage itself. That’s right: my marriage is based on lies about food. Well, and mutual intellectual and sexual attraction…but really, it all comes down to the food lies.
The game went like this when I made Hernerakkaa, a Finnish soup embodying many alarming foreign traits (double consonants, parsnips, etc.), as my first-ever submission to a nifty food blog event started by the intrepid Blazing Hot Wok: Regional Recipes, graciously hosted this month by Joanne at Eats Well With Others.
Spouse [suspiciously]: What’re you making?
Me [thinking quickly, talking even faster]: Split pea soup! You like split pea soup. Remember that great split pea soup my parents made for us a couple of years ago?
Spouse [still suspicious]: Didn’t that have ham in it?
Me [avoiding the question entirely]: Look, it has potatoes!
Spouse [pointing at a parsnip bit]: What’s that?
Me: A new kind of potato.
And thus this dish was dubbed, in non-threatening words, Split Pea Soup with at Least Three New Kinds of Potatoes Which You Liked When My Parents Made It, Remember?
That's toasted cheese on the bread, not microwaved French fries.
Hernerakkaa – Finnish Split Pea Soup
Adapted from Sundays at Moosewood, cooked with more of an Indian dal technique because I have a pathological fear of eating non-sauteed cooked carrots. So…mushy…
1 cup dried yellow split peas, rinsed and drained several times until the water runs clear
5 cups vegetable stock (homemake it, baby!)
1 medium potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1 parsnip, peeled and diced
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs dried marjoram
1 tsp powdered thyme
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs ground yellow mustard
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
1. Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a broad saucepan, then toss in the onion and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, then toss in the rest of the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables have colored slightly, approximately another 8 minutes.
2. Sprinkle the cumin over the vegetables and stir until it coats them evenly and has begun to give off a light toasted smell, approximately 1 minute.
3. Stir in the rinsed split peas, salt, and vegetable stock. Turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
4. Add the marjoram, thyme, and black pepper. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, covered, for approximately an hour. Check every twenty minutes to make sure that the soup has not dried out or scorched. The soup is done when the split peas have broken down into a thick, textured paste (appetizing!).
5. While the soup is cooking, whip the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks. This took me approximately two minutes using my electric beater set to a medium speed.
6. Turn off the heat on the soup and stir in the ground mustard. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
7. Serve with a dark rye or pumpernickel bread on the side and a dollop of heavy cream on top. Optionally, stick a bay leaf in the back of the bowl ‘cause you think it’s purty.