Cold wintery days like these call for soup, the heartier the better. Here's a recipe I've thrown together based on one I find on the website www.berettta.com of Dufferin Grove farmers' market butchers Beretta Farms for Quebecois pea soup. The idea comes to me when I see smoked pork rib ends next to their hocks at Kensington's European Meats for $1.49 a pound. I have no idea what a rib end is, but figure it will work in soup.
Said rib ends turns out to be a strip of nearly boneless and virtually fat-free smoked pork an inch wide, an inch thick, and eighteen inches long for all of $1.38. It would make a great belt. Instead, I turn it and two dollars-worth of dried peas I pick up at Tutti Fruiti into a rib-sticking potage that's also remotely health-conscious. As long as you turn a blind eye to the possibly nitrate-laden pork.
1 cup each dried split green and yellow peas
1 lb smoked rib ends, chopped into three pieces
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 potato, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp dried thyme
2 crushed dried red chili pods with seeds
1 tbsp crushed black peppercorn
juice of a lemon
2 litres water
yogurt, to garnish
Rinse the peas well, at least twice, in fresh water. Drain, and set aside. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in the same large pot you'll be cooking the soup. Add the garlic and onion, stirring till caramelized, about two minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add carrot, celery, potato and sweet potato - you want the dice to be small and uniform so that the veggies break down into the soup as it slow cooks - and dried thyme, chilies, pepper and lemon juice, stirring for another two minutes. Add peas, smoked pork and water - or as much needed to cover - and bring to boil. Reduce to low simmer for 90 minutes, adding more water if needed as the soup thickens. After an hour of simmering, remove the pork and shred it into 1/4-inch slices, and return to soup. Five minutes before serving, add frozen peas. Dollop with yogurt at table.
Your digestive system will thank me.