Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pantry Plunder Split Pea Vegetable Soup - Another Corner of Crockpot Heaven

This is the weekend I made some inroads on the contents of my freezer and pantry.  As much as my heart was yearning for a shopping spree at BJ's, my head was reminding me of the substantial reserves I really needed to work through, to facilitate a well-timed stock rotation.  Out came my last two pillow packs of Perdue chicken thighs plus a package of bacon chunks I picked up during our trip home from Georgia in late October.  I raided my vegetable drawer, my pantry, and my spice cabinet.  I have other plans for the chicken, but here is what I did with the rest of my pantry plunder:

Into the crockpot with you!

2 large stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium gold potatoes, peeled and diced
up to one pound smoked bacon pieces (my package was frozen)
1 - 12 oz. bag green split peas, rinsed
2 small bay leaves
1 large plum tomato, diced
1 cup frozen black-eyed peas
1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Vegetable Soup & Dip Mix
1 tablespoon dried thyme
black pepper, granulated garlic, parsley flakes, sugar
1 - 32 oz. box chicken stock
2-3 cups water

Put the ingredients in the crockpot in the order given. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, which means 8:30 to 9:30 tonight.  We are going out to dinner with friends, so I'll save room to taste the soup when we get back.

At 9:00, the soup wasn't quite done, so my plan is to let it keep cooking for a total of 12 hours on low.  Stir the soup two or three times over the course of the 12 hours.  The split peas should be dissolving into the soup as you stir.  Taste and re-season as you go.

We had a pleasant dinner with our friends, but sad to say, I am not about to recommend the restaurant.  All that joie de vivre was about the good company and the fine wine.  The food ranged from one really good dish (shrimp) to a just okay dish (the lamb shank) and ending with two disappointing dishes (the linguine with white clam sauce, and the pork milanese).  The saddest part of this culinary misadventure was that this fairly new Italian restaurant had replaced Cat Cora's Kouzzina.  We will miss Kouzzina, which served really good Greek and Mediterranean food.  As to the new restaurant, there are much better Italian restaurants in the area, off Disney property.  And let's face it, my preparation of linguine with white clam sauce is much better than theirs - or anyone else's, for that matter.  The late, lamented Tarantino's used to do a really fine linguine with clam sauce, but somewhere along the way the recipe changed and was not quite as good anymore.  Oh, how I miss the good old days when Tarantino's still occupied a tiny corner of an old sheet metal building on the corner of Oak and John Young, and consistently turned out the best Italian food anywhere.

Well, it actually took over 13 hours, but the soup is finished and I am very happy with the result.  So good!  And the bacon chunks are like perfect bites of ultra-tender pork belly.  Swallow and smile, my friends, while you send thanks to the crockpot gods.

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