I usually think of split pea soup as a winter thing, but last week I gave a summer version a shot and I was really happy with the result. Alex and I ate it outside for an early dinner with a couple glasses of savignon blanc. I also think this soup would be nice served up in little shot-sized glasses or porcelain spoons for an hors d’oeuvre or an amuse bouch (they did something similar with a spring pea soup while we were at Blackberry Farm and everyone was raving about it). But, beyond tasting wonderful, this recipe is secretly really healthy — packed with protein and low in fat and calories (perfect for post-July 4 BBQ benders!).
This hearty and healthy soup is a perfect meal to quickly pull together on a Monday or Tuesday evening and then eat for the rest of the week. The taste is best a day or two day after it’s made and the flavors are totally melded.
I make French lentil and barley soup a lot, since all the ingredients are things I always keep on hand at our house. You’ll notice there are many ingredients used in both this soup and my Hoppin’ John. In general, my bean and grain soups share several of the same base ingredients, making it easier to shop and keep the pantry streamlined.
If you haven’t had French lentils before, they are my absolute favorite for soups and salads. They maintain their shape, unlike most lentils, which tend to break down as they are cooked. I like their firm and chewy consistency. I also like how they are often available in bulk bins in grocery stores. At my local grocery store, the French lentils used in this recipe cost us about $1.40.
As far as I know, eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a tradition across the South. I’m not sure why, but they supposedly bring luck for the whole year (I should have eaten an extra dose before our trip to Vegas last week).
Since my parents are from Texas, I grew up eating black eyed peas every January 1. When I first left home, my mom would send me a bag of dried peas each December among Christmas presents, making sure she did her part in passing on some New Year’s luck. I typically took the bag and shoved it to the very back of my kitchen cabinet, right next to the bag from the year before. To be fair, though, the dried black eyed peas went uncooked mostly because I was spending my winters in the mountains of Colorado, where the altitude makes cooking beans just about impossible without a pressure cooker. I’m back at sea level these days, so I’m returning to my black eyed pea roots. Since they taste great and are healthy, why buck tradition?