Sunday, February 20, 2011

French Split Pea Soup

Recently I've been trying to catch up on posts about crock pot meals that I made at the end of last semester, but never had an opportunity to actually post about.  I've already mentioned in several posts the birthday gift that I received from my future mother-in-law, The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World.  Well, the first meal that I made in that was back in the beginning of November, French Split Pea Soup.  The difficult thing about this cookbook, that I've mentioned before, is that it often requires either several steps to prepare the ingredients, or asks you to add additinal ingredients part-way through the recipe.  Now, in some ways this could be considered good for the graduate student lifestyle--when you have the ability to work from home, you can easily be at home to add additional ingredients, or take longer to prepare the crock pot in the morning.  For those who spend all day at school, like me, however, such recipes are more difficult.

So, this French Split Pea Soup is probably the easiest recipe to put together in the whole cookbook.  All of the preparatory work, rinsing and sorting through the split peas and chopping the onion, carrots, and celery, can be done the night before, making the actual prep work in the morning a piece of cake.  (As you can see from the image above, I did the prep work the night before to make it much easier for me to throw everything together in the morning.)

So, in the morning when you get up, you just need to mix all the ingredients you prepped the night before in the crock pot.  Another thing that is good about this recipe is that it doesn't necessarily require any broth.  The recipe asks for water or chicken stock.  I did use chicken stock, but that was only because it was on sale and I had a coupon.  If I hadn't had that coupon, I would have definitely just used water in this recipe.

The last ingredient, which unfortunately makes this a not-vegitarian-friendly recipe, is a smoked pork chop, which you can see me adding to the right.

I cannot emphasize enough throughout this post how easy this recipe is.  After mixing all the ingredients together, as I've illustrated here, you just cook the soup on low for 8-10 hours.  That timing is perfect if you have to be out of the house all day at school (or work) and the house will smell amazing when you get home.  After letting it cook for that long, you just remove the bone from the pork chop (which will come off easy because the meat at this point is literally falling off the bone) and then break up any large chunks of meat so it's mixed throughout.

To the left, you'll see a picture of what the soup looked like when it was all done.  The cookbook recommends adding salt to taste, but I didn't add any (surprise, surprise) and I really enjoyed it exactly as it was.  In fact, the note that I left for myself in my cookbook so I remember I liked it was "Amazing!"

The recipe says that it serves 4 to 6 and I got exactly 6 servings out of it.  In terms of cost, the two big items to purchase are the pork chops and the chicken stock--but the latter isn't really necessary because you can just use water.  Either way, it's not an expensive meal.  With the chicken stock included, it comes to about $2.48 per serving.  Using water instead, it ends up only being about $1.65 per serving.  Either way, add a big salad and maybe some bread and you have an affordable meal that will help stretch your stipend.  In terms of calories, the soup isn't a big-calorie meal, so adding the salad and bread will give you a good dinner that won't pack on the pounds as you sit at your desk all day.  With the chicken stock, it comes out to about 134 calories per serving; without, it's about 114 calories per serving.  Not much either way and this is a recipe that I'd definitely make again!

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