Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cooking Escoffier: Purée de Pois (Split Pea Soup)

If you told me years ago that I would make a split pea soup and that I would actually like the end product, I would've been more than skeptical. My father used to make split pea soup a lot when I was a child and I absolutely loathed it. I don't know if it was the taste, texture, or the color, but I refused to eat it either way. Luckily, Escoffier's version of the recipe has erased my childhood apprehension for this classic soup.

Unlike most of the Le Guide Culinaire recipes I've been posting lately, I am amending his recipe since most people don't have kitchen scales at home, and since getting ham hocks may be a bit difficult. I am also changing how he thinks this dish should be served. For Escoffier a soup was only one dish in a series of dishes to compromise a complete meal. This is all fine and dandy if you are working in a kitchen and serving multi-course meals, but that is almost never true. So, to make this soup more substantial I added fried chicken, crème fraîche, and a little parmesan cheese.

Purée de Pois (Split Pea Soup):
1 lbs dried split peas, rinse and drained
1/2 tablespoon table salt (10 grams)
5 cups water
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped (2 oz or 60 grams)
1 large carrot, roughly chopped (2 oz or 60 grams)
1 medium leek, sliced in half and washed well, white and pale green parts only (2 oz or 60 grams)
3 slices of bacon, sliced into 1 inch pieces (2 oz or 60 grams)
1 ham hock (optional)
1 bayleaf
2 cups chicken stock (more as needed)

1. Bring the water and salt to a boil then add all of the ingredients except for the chicken stock.
2. Bring back to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the peas are cooked. Remove the ham hock and bay leaf from the soup.
3. Remove the soup from heat and let it cool slightly before puréeing.
4. Once cooled, purée the soup in batches while adding chicken stock as necessary.
5. Pass the purée through a sieve and blend whatever is left behind again until all the soup passes through the sieve.
6. Put the soup over medium heat to reheat and then adjust the thickness of the soup with chicken stock, if necessary.
7. Garnish the soup with sour cream or crème fraîche, fried bread or chunks of fried chicken, and Parmesan cheese.

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