10 February 2010

Habitant Pea Soup with Salted Herbs

Habitant Pea Soup with Salted Herbs
Here it is the middle of February and I just can't believe that winter has not arrived here in the valley. Wiarton Willie, the groundhog, predicted 6 more weeks of winter on February 2nd...but winter has yet to arrive here in Western Canada. Now you better believe that in no way am I complaining here!!!!! A winter without snow is a dream come true when you can drive up into the mountains and get all the snow your little heart desires for snowboarding and skiing. We have some of the best powder snow in British Columbia!! But here in the valley I have not scraped my windshield, shoveled the driveway or put on snow tires this winter. My only desire for snow and some cooler weather would be for the Olympics in Vancouver. This will probably be the only time in my own history that I would be hoping for snow...except when I was a kid of course!!!!! Of course they are able to truck in snow from the mountains and man-made snow is always a big help as well. Last I heard Russia has even kindly offered to donate snow to the events. It would of course be too much to ask that we get through a winter here in Canada without snow at all.... but I do believe that the worst is over...if it ever came this year at all!!!

Since it is really winter what better way to enjoy cooler weather than with a comforting bowl of soup!!!Habitant Pea Soup or French Canadian Pea Soup is a water-based soup made from dried legumes which in French Canadian regions is referred to as soup aux pois. Habitant refers to people who live in rural Québec, where this hearty soup is a popular staple. As a teenager I remember travelling to Quebec City with my sister and having a satisfying bowl of Habitant Pea Soup and bread freshly baked from a stone oven. We also had a tourtiere with homemade pickled beets and dill pickles on the side. To me these are typically Canadian dishes that are well worth a try.

Habitant Pea Soup is medium-thick in texture and combines dried yellow peas, salt pork, onions, herbs, and spices as the main ingredients. However, additional vegetables such as carrots or potatoes, pieces of ham, and different types of dried peas are often added to many homemade versions of this soup. This is comfort food at it's best!!!! The reason we find soup so comforting is our ability to make it our own and add whatever ingredients we like, customize it to our tastes and then wallow in its warm goodness. This flavourful, chunky yet smooth soup simmers away while you're relaxing around the house....if only that were true!!!!

If you cook a bone-in ham, save the bone for this soup instead of the smoked hock.  I would like to point out that the French Canadian split pea soup is traditionally made with yellow split peas. The split green pea soup is traditional in the Netherlands and elsewhere. But in Quebec... it is the yellow pea that rules!!!!

Ham hocks can be purchased at most specialty meat stores. However, you can also use finely diced bacon to obtain a similar flavour, but not quite as good. Just be sure to sauté the bacon first then drain most of the excess fat before adding the vegetables. The benefit of using ham hock instead of bacon is not just for flavour. Ham bones provide gelatin that contributes to the soups consistency after cooking.

I used some of the Salted Herbes I preserved back in the summer to add a hint of summer and a promise of what is to come...a girl has to dream doesn't she.....The bread that you see here is some Cheese Bread that I just had to make to remind me of my childhood back in Ontario. Anyone who grew up in Mennonite Country would remember cheese bread baked by the Mennonite ladies at the farmers market in St. Jacob's. Just take your favourite bread recipe and after the first rising shape it into an oblong. Spread chunks of Cheddar cheese on top and roll it up like a jelly roll. Then allow to rise again and bake. Easy peasy!!!!

**Habitant Pea Soup with Salted Herbes**
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or vegetable oil
1 large onion
2 medium carrots
2 garlic cloves
4 cups dried split peas
12 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 small ham hock
3 whole bay leafs
1- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt  or 1 tablespoon Salted Herbes
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Add the oil to a large pot and turn burner onto low heat. Finely chop the onions, celery, carrots and transfer each of them to the pot. Sauté until translucent - about 5 minutes. Then add the crushed garlic and quickly sauté for about 30 seconds.

Next, add the peas, ham hock, stock, bay leaves, salt (or salted herbes), pepper and bring the soup just to a boil. Then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the peas start to break down. Stir occasionally.

At about the 2 hour mark, remove the ham hock and let cool for a few minutes. Then remove the fat and bone, and discard. Shred the ham meat into larger pieces and return to the soup.

Taste for seasoning, then serve with your favorite fresh bread and a side salad for a complete meal. Enjoy!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.

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  1. I love this soup. It took me forever to figure out how to use herbes salees. I think I will some this summer, too.

  2. I can't believe you haven't had snow! I live in NC and we've gotten a decent amount. Your soup looks very tasty!

  3. What a fascinating story! I love soup and make it pretty much year round. I will try this AND the salted herbs. I, too, am in NC-it's been the most "wintery" winter we've seen since moving here 4 years ago
    xoxo Pattie

  4. A delicious soup! Perfect with this cold weather...



  5. I am dying for winter to arrive....I am so hot and busy!!!!! I love the autumn/winter hue of this picture!!!

  6. mmm, ham hock is magical. :)
    meanwhile, tom hanks is old enough to be my father, but there's something so irresistibly charming and charismatic about him--good call. :)

  7. Lovely soup - I really like that bread with the cheeese in the middle too!

  8. I heard they have been shipping snow in for the Olympics!! This soup would be most welcome in my house right now - its bloomin freezing

  9. I always thought split pea soup was nasty until I made my own. Then I loved it. Unfortunately, my kids are in the "Euww, it's green, it's nasty!" phase, so I don't make it much.

  10. It's so funny you Northerners haven't had snow when so many of our cities are COVERED. And of course it's raining so hard down here I'm tempted to start building an ark.

  11. This soup sounds incredibly flavorful and would definitely be welcome for our snowy days here!

  12. One of my favorite books is Margaret Atwood's "Cat's Eye". The author makes a reference once or twice to Habitant Pea Soup. I never knew what it was. I assumed it was a brand name. Now I know what it means. Thanks for clarifying.

    I laughed at the folks south of me when they got buried in snow while NYC got a few flakes and those of us north of the city got nothing. Well, I got my comeuppance yesterday. At least I had the foresight to find a municipal parking lot (I have no garage or lot of my own for my car) that is covered. No car clean out/dig out this morning. It would be nice if that was all the snow we'll have until December.

  13. thanks for this we have here in Paris a neverending witner !! cheers pierre

  14. I adore all of the vegetables added to this pea soup. It looks delicious!

  15. Lovely! I have captured that salted herb recipe - I love it.

  16. Habitant is the name also of a company that makes specific soups Short Order...so you are definitely right!!! It is what my mom always gave us as kids.

  17. I love yellow pea soup and can't wait for an opportunity to make your special version. I hope you are havind a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  18. Your soup looks so nourishing. I love your blog and need to spend some more time here. I feel like I know you through your picture in comments and in my follower list. I am now a follower of yours.

  19. Pea soup is one of my winter time favorites although, like you, we aren't having much of a winter here. Not a single day in January below freezing and my trees are starting to bud. This could be very bad.

  20. Val, Habitant doesn't have a chance against yours or any homemade soup.

  21. It stinks that the weather isn't cooperating for the games! Better do a snow dance!!

    Your soup looks warm and delicious!

    Congrats on your award. Your life sounds like a lot of fun! It was great reading these fun facts about you! :)

  22. Your soup has an elegant title! :) Sounds delicious Val!

  23. Canada with no snow. Unbelievable. There's an old Bahamian staying, "Don't put mouth on it." So get ready for winter if you believe what they say.

    Congratulations on your awards. Awesome soup too. Perfect for snow, if it ever comes your way.

  24. So nice that you will have a chance to travel to Portugal. I hope to go someday. We love Pea Soup in Québec. So delicious. Love that you added Herbes Salées.

  25. I am so thrilled! I have met so many interesting bloggers and learned so much through your site...- and then today just received a huge parcel in the mail!
    My "win". It is HUGE... I will be photographing all of the goodies and thanking you at my site this week - introducing and inviting all to Bloggers Aid!
    Thank you so much!
    lucky clucky me!!!!


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