Seeing as the temperature here is still bone-chilling, I continue with the comfort foods to warm the soul. This is actually Peter’s comfort food. He loves pea soup. I, on the other hand, do not. It isn’t so much the taste that I’m not fond of, but the texture. I’m not a big fan of chunky soups. And that is precisely what Canadian pea soup is. Or rather, Québécois-style pea soup. Here in Quebec, this very traditional ‘Soupe aux pois’, made with yellow split peas, is the ultimate comfort food when it comes to soups.
A funny thing about pea soup. During World War I, General Sir Arthur William Currie ordered his French-Canadian troops to be fed with pea soup, believing that it was the most consistent food and that soldiers would improve their performance on the battlefield. Found to be very funny from the English soldiers’ point-of-view, the French-Canadian soldiers were then called “Pea Soup”, or “Pea Soupers”!
We had a left-over baked ham on the bone. We threw it into a pot, added enough water to cover it, an onion and some parsley. We boiled it down for about 2 hours, until we got a nice brown stock. If you don’t have a left-over baked ham, no worries. Just follow this step using a fresh ham hock, smoked or not. That’s up to you.
In another pot, I heated some olive oil on medium heat. I added a finely chopped onion, 2 diced carrots, 2 diced celery stalks, 3 or 4 bay leaves, some salt and pepper. I let that cook for about 5 or 6 minutes. I then added about 2 cups of yellow split peas and toasted them for a couple of minutes.
Then I added the ham stock. And here is where my pea soup differs from the traditional French-Canadian pea soup. Instead of adding the usual 5 or so cups of stock per 2 cups of split peas, I must have added at least 10 cups of stock. My soups need to be filled with steaming hot broth. Lots and lots of broth. That’s what warms my soul. And after cooking the split peas for about 1 hour, that is exactly what I got. Traditional French-Canadian pea soup? Maybe not. Fantastic split-pea soup? Oh, absolutely!