I attempted making pea soup last night. Let’s just say that cleaning split pea foam from every surface of the kitchen (including the floor) will mean a late dinner.
When I was growing up in Oranjemund, my best friend’s father would pick us up from school on rainy days and give us pea soup at home.
But this was no ordinary pea soup. This is pea soup that completely banishes winter from your bones and comforts your soul. This is pea soup with melt-in-your-mouth soft mutton, flavoured with old fashioned salt and pepper, and perfected with patience.
Okay – maybe the memory is a bit romaticized in my mind. But I swear this is the best pea soup I’ve ever tasted in my life. Man! Just thinking about it puts the smell in my nose and the taste in my mouth.
This is the BIG ONE for me – finishing off my Superb Soup Mission this winter with pea soup just like that.
So, last night marked my first attempt. (FYI – I’ve tried making this soup before but it was a tasteless disaster with meat tougher than Chuck Norris.)
The end product was quite enjoyable, maybe even a bit impressive if you count the fact that I didn’t use a recipe. The meat (I used Kudu) was soft, it wasn’t bland and the potatoes were soft but firm. But as far as remaking the pea soup from my childhood memories went: MAJOR FAIL.
I did manage to walk away from the experience with more than a full belly, though.
LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT MAKING PEA SOUP
1. Don’t always listen to your mother.
Jammer Ma! Boiling split peas in a pressure cooker is not a great idea. Yes, it cuts down a little bit on cooking time. But you will make up for time saved by wasting time cleaning every surface of the kitchen. The foam that the split peas produce when boiling CAN and WILL go through the little steam releaser on the pressure cooker lid, and end up on the other side of the kitchen.
I’ve been told since that you can actually run cold water over a pressure cooker to cool it down, but I’m a bit too wary and my pressure cooker is a bit old to do that.
2. Follow the instructions
They tested, produced and packaged it. If their instructions say you can add it to the pot after frying onions and garlic, it is probably possible. Let me explain: I was told that the peas don’t go soft enough if there is any oil or salt in the water it boils in. So I almost doubled the entire process time by first pressure cooking the peas, taking them out, pressure cooking the meat and later adding the peas again. This is called THE LONG WAY.
3. Remember the right spices
This applies when using game. You can get rid of the ‘gamey’ taste by adding Worcester sauce and herbs to it. But you need to do this from the very start, or it will obviously not have had enough time to do it’s thing.
I know that not all these lessons apply to all kitchens, cooks or pressure cookers!
This story does have a happy ending…I got the recipe from my friend’s father for his famous pea soup.
I hope my husband doesn’t mind having pea soup a second time this week.