Tag Archives: yams

Split Pea Soup

I think this split pea soup is the very soup about which was written:

Pea porridge hot, pea porridge cold, pea porridge in the pot nine days old.

After an hour on the stove, it gains a thick consistency, like a porridge. And the quantity of soup produced is so large that I definitely understand how it could sit around for 9 days. Ours sat around for at least 6–though in the fridge, mind you. And in a nice airtight container, for those concerned.

In her original recipe, Tracy says you can use bacon or ham, but I’m completely advocating the use of ham. Because the bacon, after simmering for an hour, is bound to get floppy–and who likes floppy bacon? The chunks of ham are totally satisfying and delicious. Troist me. This is a great comforting soup with awesome flavor, and very little prep work.

The ultimate test: the man of the house. He said (and I quote):

“Why don’t we eat things like this all the time?”

Bless his ever-loving soul. I love it when he says that.

And it’s a good thing he loved it, since we ate this soup all week long and it yielded no less than 4 meals for the two of us–plus a little extra for some hungry members of our Bible study.


( Serves 8 )

2 sweet potatoes or yams, or 1/2 butternut squash
1 large onion
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
2-3 cups ham cut into 1″ pieces
8 cups water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
16 oz dried split peas
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 TBS dried sage
1 TBS fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Before we jump in, I must explain that my flash temporarily decided to be broken. I switched out batteries a few times, prodded it, swiveled it around–but it would not work. The lighting in my kitchen is very bad, but I was also very hungry and not willing to waste any more time messing with the flash, so I gritted my teeth and took some very bad pictures. Bad light . . . bad focus . . . bad color balance. Man, I’d really grown dependent on that flash unit for my food photography.

Anyway–less about Mr. Speedlight SB-600 and more about the veggies at hand!

Peel the sweet potatoes or yams, and chop ’em up (along with the carrots for OrangeFest 2011) into smallish cubes.

Dice the onion and celery . . .

. . . and cut the ham into 1” cubes.

Dice the basil and pretend I took a picture.

Thoroughly rinse and clean the split peas.

Combine all the ingredients in a very large pot.

Oooh, a shred of light is coming through the window!

It’s the first decent picture of the lot.

Don’t forget the herbs and spices, along with a generous amount of salt and pepper!

Bring to a boil over medium high heat . . .

. . . and rejoice that your flash suddenly decided to work again!

Once the soup boils, turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and simmer it for about an hour, stirring a couple times to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom and creating a layer of burnination. Remove the cover of the pot during the final 10-15 minutes of cooking. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve hot!

You can also freeze it within 5 days. Or hope for the best and polish it off on day 6.

A note: the soup looks a little watery here, but after a night in the fridge it was so thick it definitely qualified as ‘porridge.’

It was so good that after eating it all week long, by the time I scooped up the very last spoonfuls from the very last bowl, I was actually disappointed.

I actually started plotting when I could make it again.

True story.

I think you guys will love this one!

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Braised Chicken Curry with Yams

I had forgotten all about this recipe until a few weeks ago I was casting about in my memory for delicious stews to counteract the winter chill . . . and I remembered. All of a sudden, the flavor of this dish came rushing back and I knew I had to make it immediately.

The original recipe comes from Ming Tsai’s East Meets West, which I checked out of the library in Delaware years ago. I had scribbled some brief instructions on a lined sheet of paper which was subsequently swallowed up in my recipe binder where it lived for a few years, forgotten and alone. Until now! Though I loved the base flavor of the original recipe, I wanted some more texture and ‘zing’, so I added some golden raisins and cilantro to finish it off. It’s perfection.

Don’t hesitate–just make it!


(Serves 6)

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 TBS olive oil

2 large onions

2 TBS minced garlic

1 TBS minced ginger (heaping!)

1/3 c Madras curry powder (fresh as possible)

4 c chicken stock

1 large banana (or 2 small ones)

2 bay leaves

2 large yams, peeled and cubed

1/3 c golden raisins

Garnish with cilantro and blanched almonds, coconut flakes, or lime juice

First, trim the chicken thighs. For some reason the fat on chicken thighs really grosses me out, though I’m immune to the fat of pork or steak.

Now pat them dry (super important!–this will help them brown well) and put salt and pepper all over both sides of them. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. When it’s very hot, add the chicken thighs. You may want to do this in two batches, because if you overcrowd the pot they will steam instead of frying.

It’s important to take your time during this step, because you want a really nice sear. It will probably take 10 minutes per batch. Don’t hurry though–you’re building flavor.

While the thighs are browning, roughly chop the onion. Very roughly.

No mirepoix required here, thank you very much.

Mince the garlic and ginger as well.

You should also have plenty of time to peel and chop the banana.

Once the thighs are done browning, remove them to a plate. They should look something like this:

Your pot will now look something like this:

Without cleaning it, dump the onion, ginger and garlic into the pot . . .

. . . and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until they’re getting golden and wonderful. Stir often so that you don’t burn the garlic! Right now your entire household will come to the kitchen to investigate what that heavenly smell is. Use your tongs with impunity to defend the pot and beat them back.

Now add the curry powder.

What a gorgeous, gorgeous yellow.

Stir constantly and vigorously for no more than 2 minutes. The spices need a couple minutes to get fragrant, but they also burn easily, so keep the ingredients in constant motion.

I should also mention that having the chicken stock handy is important, so that you don’t have to stop stirring. If you burn that curry powder, the flavor of the dish will be . . . not right.

Pour in the chicken stock . . .

. . . and add the bay leaves and banana.

Stir to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pot.

Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and add the chicken back in.

Cover the pot, but leave a little vent for the steam to come out.

Let it simmer for an hour and a half. During this time, the banana will completely dissolve. The flavor it adds is wonderful, but nobody would guess it was created by a banana. If you peak into the pot after half an hour, the banana will look frightening and disturbing. I actually poked at it and asked out loud “What the heck is this thing?” before a logical process of elimination revealed it was the very banana I had peeled and chopped with my own two hands not thirty minutes prior. So don’t peak, and just trust the fact that by the end of the hour and a half it will have completely disappeared.

If you get ravenous, grab a snack. This chocolate from a Big Jake food shipment came in handy. You can see proof that he delights in a good deal by the orange 50 cent sticker.

You should also use this time to peel your yams . . .

. . . and chop them into medium sized cubes.

And rinse and chop some cilantro if you plan on using that.

After 90 minutes, take the lid off the pot and smell the goodness at hand.

Now grab those yams, add them to the pot and give it a good stir to submerge them.

Cook for 30 more minutes with the pot partially covered–but no longer than that or your yams will get really mushy. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the golden raisins.

They will get plump and delicious, and they add a fun burst of texture and flavor.

Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.

Top it with cilantro. Or blanched almonds. Or peanuts! Or lime juice! Or just eat it as is.

The chicken is fork-tender. Mmmmmm.

I also tried sprinkling it with coconut flakes:

Delicious. You can tell this was a different night because the color of the plate has changed.

Make it! It’s fall, and I can’t think of anything else I want for dinner at this moment. A bowl of this magic would hit the spot.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Braised Chicken Curry with Yams