soup day

I accomplished three things today (but the first, watching a week’s worth of both The Daily Show and the Colbert Report, doesn’t count. Maybe later I’ll take a shower or something). I did laundry, and I made soup. Today was just a soup-y kind of day. A friend loaned me her computer since she’s out of town for one night, and it’s been gray and dreary, so there was absolutely no motivation to leave the house. I decided to stay bundled up at home and make some ärtsoppa, or yellow pea soup. Ärtsoppa is a traditional Thursday supper in Sweden, but I made it on a Tuesday anyway. It is normally served with hot mustard, and it is delicious.

I really like making food that involves lots of chopping at the beginning. It’s fun to prep all the vegetables. There are many recipes online, and as usual with something like this (i.e., not baking), I follow them only loosely. My recipe isn’t very traditional at all, partly because it is so much easier to just use bacon than a real ham hock, and partly because the Swedes don’t use carrot in their version. The tender carrot medallions are so delicious, though. Anyway, here’s how I make it:

Swedish (Kind of) Ärtsoppa
makes about 2 1/2 quarts (the size of my biggest pot here in Sweden)

1). Soak a pound of dried whole yellow peas overnight. Split peas work just as well. Remove the skins as they float to the top of the water.
2). Finely dice 2 medium onions, and chop 1-2 celery stalks and a large carrot (I prefer carrot rounds or half rounds).
3). Cut 4-6 ounces of bacon into small pieces and fry in a large soup pot until crispy. Remove the bacon, leaving the bacon grease in the pot.
4). Cook the vegetables over medium heat in the bacon fat until the onions are tender. Add the peas and water to approximately 2 1/2 quarts. Salt to taste, remembering that the salty bacon will be added back in later. Simmer on medium low for 2-3 hours. You could add other herbs now, or use chicken stock, but I don’t have any in the house, and in any case, the soup tastes great without them.
5). About 1/2 hour before serving, add the bacon back into the soup, and reseason. I sometimes also like to add 2 medium diced waxy potatoes around this time too. Serve with horseradish, or strong hot mustard, if you have it.

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