"Martha was very fond of making split pea soup Sometimes she made it all day long. Pots and pots of split pea soup." - James Marshall, George and Martha
I love soup. During the winter months I make soup a minimum of once a week. I'd make soup every night if I thought I could get away with it but I suspect that would result in my family surreptitiously trying to dispose of their leftovers in their shoes. Like George does in George and Martha, James Marshall's sweet and funny book (the first in a series) about two best friends.
In Marshall's very short chapters (or vignettes, if you will) we are introduced to George and Martha, two best friends who occasionally get on each other's nerves and aren't afraid to put each other in their proper places. They are a bit like Frog and Toad, or Bert and Ernie. Despite misunderstandings, their friendship is what holds them together.
It doesn't hurt that the stories have a lot of kid appeal. In one story, Martha chews George out for being a peeping tom (this comes off as hilarious, not creepy). In another, George breaks his "favorite" tooth and must have it replaced with a gold tooth (I was fascinated by this when I was a kid). And then there is the infamous split pea soup story. In it, Martha repeatedly serves George her homemade split pea soup. George, too polite to tell Martha he hates split pea soup, quietly puts up with it until one day he can stand it no longer and dumps his bowl (his tenth of the day!) in his shoe. Unfortunately Martha has seen the whole thing. Instead of being offended, she gently suggests he tell her the truth next time . . . and confesses that she, too, hates split pea soup. She just likes making it.
I have to thank my friend Jess for reminding me about the split pea soup chapter in this book. I thought George and Martha were hilarious when I was growing up so I'm not sure why it took me so long to introduce them to my boys. At five and seven, my boys are just the right ages to find the stories absolutely hilarious. We have George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends (you can get the books individually but trust me, you won't be able to stop at just one so save yourself the time and look for the compilation) out from the library right now and they can't get enough of the short and hilarious vignettes. "Just one more!" they beg. It is especially sweet to hear them giggle together as the seven year old reads them aloud to the five year old.
Anyway, coincidentally or not, I had been going through my Ina Garten cookbooks for soup recipes and the split pea soup recipe was beckoning. . .
Parker's Split Pea Soup (courtesy of Ina Garten and The Food Network; a version of this recipe also appears in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)
- 1 cup chopped yellow onions
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 cup good olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups medium-diced carrots (3 to 4 carrots)
- 1 cup medium-diced red boiling potatoes, unpeeled (3 small)
- 1 pound dried split green peas
- 8 cups chicken stock or water
1. In a stock pot, saute onions, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes, or until onions are translucent.
2. Add carrots, potatoes, 1/2 pound of split peas and stock/water.
3. Bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
4. Add remaining peas and simmer for another 40 minutes, or until peas are soft. Stir often to prevent soup from burning on the bottom of the pot. (Note: I had to simmer mine--on medium heat---well over 40 minutes and add extra liquid.)
Somewhat shockingly, both of my kids actually liked this soup. I thought it had a good flavor too. My husband wasn't a fan but it worked for 3/4 of the household so I consider it a victory. Note that this makes a good meat-free meal, and can be vegetarian if you use water instead of chicken broth.
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