The split pea soup cure
When you've got a cold, there's just not much you can do besides lie around and feel miserable. Well, you could eat something. But nothing much seems to sound good. Still, when such times arise, I think everyone has one soup that they crave as a restorative. Maybe for you it's chicken noodle. For me, it's split pea.
So after spending this weekend in bed sneezing and coughing, doped up on decongestants, and doing nothing much besides napping, catching up on my old New Yorkers and plowing through the latest Ruth Rendell mystery ("The Vault": I think it's one of her better ones), I gathered my wits and headed to the grocery store.
Some onions, potatoes and carrots, a ham hock and a pound of split peas -- that's all it takes. I simmered the hock with a split onion for an hour or so, then set it aside to cool. I simmered the peas in 6 cups of the ham broth until they were almost tender, then added the shredded hock meat and chopped carrots and potatoes for the last 30 minutes or so.
By this time, when I gave the soup a good stir with a wooden spoon, the peas were so tender that some of them fell apart, thickening the broth to a coarse puree.
I'm not going to tell you that this simple soup is going to replace penicillin (or even Sudafed), but it sure made me feel better for the evening.
-- Russ Parsons
Photo: Ingredients for split pea soup. Credit: Russ Parsons / Los Angeles Times