Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lovely Split Pea Soup

We've been in Texas for a good four months now, and although I'm loving my new state ( and this absolutely gorgeous October weather) I do have one minor issue...

They say everything is bigger in Texas and they're not joking. It's almost impossible to go to a restaurant and not get a Texas sized portion put on the plate in front of you. And meat dominates most of that plate. Now, its not that I've gone vegetarian or anything, but frankly, I'm tired of meat!

The other day, in a near frenzy, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I ran out to Whole Foods and bought fish- wonderful calamari- which I thought I'd score and grill in a hot pan.

Earlier in the day, I'd been flipping through Jamie Oliver's Jaime at Home and saw an amazing recipe for grilled calamari with leeks. The picture made me salivate; I wanted that dish right now. Within half hour, I was picking up the goods and dreaming of the clever post I'd share with you all.

The calamari smelled funny right from the start, but to be honest, I wasn't quite sure what calamari was supposed to smell like, so I proceeded as I normally would, prepping the fish with salt and pepper, getting the grill hot enough.

But somewhere along the line, our kitchen ( or, more accurately, our entire apartment) filled with fishy smoke. I opened all the windows and had all the fans going, but the smell lingered, and despite the fact that the leeks looks beautiful, I didn't even want to try the calamari. So I threw them in the oven to get them out of my sight.

To escape the smell, I went to pick up Gian Luca at his office. I drove with the windows down, but the minute he got into the car, his face wrinkled into a scowl.
"What's for dinner?" he asked.
"Grilled Calamari," I said with a smile, hoping that if I made it sound good, it would taste OK.

But when we entered the apartment the smell slapped us in the face. "Oh my God," Gian Luca exclaimed. "It smells like a dead whale in here."
Only he didn't say it in English. He said it in Italian. And though balena morta, sounds lovely, it's not exactly what you want to eat for dinner.
Still hoping for a miracle, I pulled the calamari out of the oven. In horror, I looked at the shriveled, dried out fish. 'We're not eating this," I sighed, and Gian Luca whole heartily agreed.
We ate fried eggs and toast for dinner that night.

Ok, so maybe the calamari thing didn't turn out exactly as planned. Still, the thought of eating another steak, or even piece of chicken was making me sick, so I tried a completely vegetarian option this time. Split Pea Soup.
And after simmering on the stove for an hour, it flavored the house with that wonderful soup smell.
And it tasted even better.

Split Pea Soup

1 bag dried split peas
1 small onion
4 celery stalks
3 carrots
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cups of water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

1) Finely chop the onion, celery, and carrots in a food processor. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot, over a medium flame.
2) Add the chopped onions, celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes, until slightly golden.
3) Add the split peas, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
4) Lower heat and simmer the soup until peas are tender. ( About 1 hour)
5) If you like a creamier soup, let the soup cool slightly and spoon into a blender. Blend until smooth.
6) Serve with grated cheese and a dash of cayenne pepper, for an added kick.


  1. Oh my - I have had dinners that went into the garbage - I am trying to think of the odor of the kitchen - oh my! But you certainly vindicated yourself. I have never seen split pea soup look so pretty. I adore the soup but it's not one of my more attractive concoctions! Kudos!

  2. Nice save with the split pea soup! I can only imagine the smell of not so fresh calamari - yuck!

  3. The soup looks delicious.
    The calamari and leeks sound good...too bad they didnt turn out as you expected.

  4. What a bummer about the calamari... eggs and toast is a great meal.

    I love splip pea soup - yours looks tasty.

  5. Antonietta! What a funny story. I can totally picture your whole experience. Gian Luca's analogy made me laugh. Just from that picture I can smell the deliciousness of that split pea soup.