Split Pea Soup

For the new year I really wanted to make Sean Brock’s Hoppin’ John. But the peas I wanted have to be bought online and they would not have arrived in time. The black eyed peas that we cook traditionally on New Years Day are symbolic of coins. They are supposed to bring a prosperous new year. This split pea soup is my new years good luck substitute, it is after all the color of dollars. And if this soup is any indication of what the new year will be, then I guess 2015 is going to be incredible.

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I learned something writing this blog post… it’s really difficult to photograph split pea soup so that it looks like more than a bowl of green. Usually garnishes add to the composition of food photography but this soup needs no garnishes – it is packed with flavor! The quality of the smoked ham hocks and chicken broth is extremely important. I attribute this soup’s awesomeness to the smoked ham hocks I bought from Sumrell’s Country Sausage. It is a tiny, questionable appearing butcher shop in Ayden, NC. But the meat is fabulous and of course local.

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This soup reminds me of my grandmother. As a kid I remember my parents would love eating her split pea soup, I thought it looked pretty awful. But as an adult, I tasted the soup, and I have been seeking that flavor ever since. The homemade chicken broth and high quality local smoked ham hocks generate an impressive depth and intense umami flavor. I have been making a lot of chicken ramen this winter and have been using my leftover broth in soups.

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I am serving this soup with cider from Virginia. I recently visited Albemarle Ciderworks just outside of Charlottesville and fueled my addiction to cider. The tasting room is beautiful, set in the rolling hills of VA. All of their varieties are wonderful and so different. I am currently sipping their Virginia Winesap which is packed with wholesome apple flavor and super crisp. You could serve this with chardonnay or whatever your favorite white wine is as well.

Split Pea Soup

1 lb split peas
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion diced
2 carrots diced
1 celery stock diced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large garlic clove, diced
1 bay leaf
2 quarts homemade chicken stock
2 lb smoked ham hocks

Place the split peas in a bowl with enough water to cover.

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery; season with freshly ground black pepper. Cook the vegetables until they soften, 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Drain the split peas, add them to the vegetables in the pot. Add in the bay leaf, chicken stock, and ham hocks. Stir everything, bring this to a boil over high heat. When the soup is boiling, decrease the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer for 1 hour.

Remove the ham hocks from the soup and set aside. Continue to cook the soup for 30 minutes more until all the vegetables have broken down and the soup is thick. There is some meat on the ham hocks which you can pull off when they are cool and add to the soup if you like.

David Chang’s Chicken Soup

If you have not seen the show The Mind of a Chef on PBS, you need to go watch it right now. The show is narrated by Anthony BourdIn and it details the awesome talent and food by David Chang. I have been working a lot of hours and I have been feeling a little less than inspired in the kitchen. This show got me so excited to spend some time in my kitchen! And this chicken soup is packed with mind blowing flavor. I’ve been reading a lot of information about chicken stock. This is the first time I’ve ever made chicken stock that thickened into a gelatin in the refrigerator. And apparently that means I’m doing something right.

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I assure you that the time dedicated to this recipe will be worth it. You will be drinking the chicken stock from the bowl after you’ve eaten all the noodles and chicken. I actually got a good deal on two whole chickens when I planned to make this the first time. I had this recipe and another soup in mind. But once I tasted this… there was no turning back. And I made the exact same recipe two days later with my second chicken. I did end up having plenty of stock left over to freeze for future cooking. I used some of it to make sauce for chicken piccata in the flavor was insane. I am beyond excited to share this recipe with you. You will never think of chicken stock the same way again.

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6 quarts water (divided into 2 quarts and 4 quarts)
1 whole 4 lb chicken
2 white onions
3 scallions
2 shallots
1 carrot
4 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
soy sauce
Udon noodles

Fill two 8 quart stock pots halfway with the 2 quarts and 4 quarts of water. Heat over medium-high. Disjoint the chicken and sprinkle with salt, rubbing the salt into the meat.

Place all of the chicken pieced into the larger pot. Grind some black pepper into the pot.

Peel and cut the onions and shallots in half. Cut the scallions and carrots into 4 inch pieces. Place the vegetables in the smaller pot of water.

Bring both pots to a simmer, turn down the heat, cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour remove the chicken pieces from the pot and allow them to cool until they can be handled. Remove all the meat off of the bones. Return the skins and all chicken pieces to the pot.

Bring both pots back to a low boil and allow to cook for 2 hours. After two hours the volume will have reduced. Strain the vegetable broth and discard the vegetables. Strain the chicken broth, discard the chicken bones.

Bring water to a boil and cook the noodles as directed. Break up the chicken pieces in to bite sized pieces. Place a serving of the chicken into each bowl. Add a serving of noodles to each bowl. Place 1/4 cup vegetable broth and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth in each bowl. (You can adjust the stock ratios to your preference.) Serve with soy sauce.

Chicken Noodle Soup

This chicken noodle soup kept us warm during the snowstorm that destroyed the south. I personally did not abandon my car on the highway. Probably because it was just a midwest standard amount of snow and I was highly motivated by the two perfect chickens waiting in the fridge. According to some legit medical research, chicken noodle soup may actually have real effects on your immune system. It may even prevent infection with influenza. This soup is extremely good. The flavor in the broth is insane and inspires me to make homemade chicken broth the Bubbly Kitchen standard. The other great bonus is this recipe makes too much chicken! You don’t need to use all the chicken that you cook in the broth. If you make a double batch of this soup with two small chickens or six pounds chicken parts, you will have enough left over chicken for another meal. See Cheesy Chicken and Rice or Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas.

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I just made a double batch of this in preparation for being too busy to cook next month, and we already ate most of it… oops. My sous chef also may have eaten most of the extra chicken while it was sitting on the counter waiting to be put away. If you want to decrease the calories in this soup, use only three ounces of noodles. These egg noodles cooked in the chicken broth are pretty amazing though. You can also refrigerate the broth prior to making the soup. This will allow you to skim the fat off, decreasing the calories. But as prepared below, this has 400 calories in 12 ounces. You can use whatever chicken parts you want for this soup. It is sometimes cheaper to buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. But if you are not into chicken surgery, you can usually ask your grocery store butcher to cut the chicken up for you.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 lb chicken, cut into parts
8 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup diced carrot
2/3 cup diced celery
4 ounces dried egg noodles

Over medium-high, heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy pot. Add in the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Brown the chicken in this pot. Work in batches so that the chicken pieces get good contact with the bottom. Cook for 10 minutes, turning to brown on each side.

Pour in the water, bay leaf, salt, and black pepper. Bring this to a boil and reduce the heat. Simmer the broth for 20 minutes, partially covered. Use a spoon or strainer to skim the unwanted stuff that surfaces to the top of the soup.

Remove chicken to a plate. Over a large bowl or super sized measuring cup, pour the soup through a fine strainer.

Use a paper towel to wipe out the pot. Return broth to pot and bring to a simmer.

Add the diced vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Add the dried egg noodles and cook for 8 minutes (or whatever your package says). While cooking the noodles, prepare the chicken for the soup. Remove the skin from a few pieces of chicken. Using your hands or a knife, chop into bite sized pieces. (I use the breasts and wings for my soup usually and save the leg and thigh meat for casseroles.)

When the noodles and vegetables are cooked, add the chicken back in. Cook until heated through.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Braised Beef with Vegetables

I have to give my kitchen manager the credit here because he is the one who made this braised beef. And man, oh man, did he do a fabulous job. This has to be the best way to prepare a chuck roast. He dedicated his Saturday to this dish. When I came home from work I could not have been more impressed! I could not stop eating it, it was so insanely full of flavor. He actually made this with parsnips the first time. I did not like the parsnips in this at all so we have left them off. If you divide the recipe as detailed below, it comes out to be only 360 calories!

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You should serve this with Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley. This is a fabulous and dependable cab that complements the beef. It is a slightly spicy red wine with intense blackberry notes. The tannins are very smooth and not overpowering. If you want to spend a little more money, get the BV Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is rich with the classic taste of the Rutherford region, black cherry and cocoa.

Braised Beef with Vegetables
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless chuck roast, trimmed of fat
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup peeled, chopped, sweet potato

Preheat oven to 325°. Over medium high heat, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a dutch oven. Season beef with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 10 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from the pan. Add onion to the pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add beef and broth; bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 325° for 2 hours.

Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, carrots, sweet potatoes, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan; toss to coat. Place pan on bottom rack in oven; bake at 325° for 50 minutes, stirring once.

Cut beef across grain into slices. Return Dutch oven to the stove over medium-high heat; cook the sauce for 5 minutes. Place 1/2 cup vegetables in each of 4 shallow bowls; top with 3 ounces beef and 1/4 cup sauce.

Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.

French Onion Soup

This soup is a winter staple in the Bubbly Kitchen. It is the perfect companion for a lunch time sandwich. It is also an ideal first course for dinner. It’s not heavy but the flavors are powerful. This intense flavor comes from your patience. You have to let the onions do their thing, don’t bother them too much. This recipe is really quite easy, but you have to devote time to developing these flavors. You should definitely get this soup started before you start baking a batch of holiday cookies. it requires very little attention and the leftovers freeze beautifully. I usually make twice the amount of caramelized onions. I store half and use them for other recipes, such as pizza, eggs en cocotte, or hamburgers. I often eat this soup by itself. But you could put a slice of crusty baguette and some shredded gruyere cheese on top of your bowl of soup and broil it. What to do with the bacon you cooked but don’t need? I hope you don’t need guidance on what to do with extra bacon, but you could put it on your sandwich or in the salad that you are eating with this soup. When you serve this as your soup course for a holiday dinner party you should open up a bottle of HALL Napa Valley Merlot 2009. This is definitely a full bodied merlot, made for cab lovers. The hint of smoke and rich berry flavors will leave you wanting more.

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French Onion Soup
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds (about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
4 slices bacon
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp brown sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef stock (I like this one)
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it is crispy and has rendered its fat. Reduce heat to low and add in the butter. Add the sliced onions, toss to coat them in oil. Cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave them alone for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, raise the heat just slightly and mix in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, every 5 minutes I would say. Cook them for 45-50 minutes or until they have turned a deep golden brown. Make sure the heat is on low so you do not burn the onions while you are preparing other things.

When the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour. Stirring constantly, cook for 3 minutes. Add the wine, then add the stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.