One can look at it two ways: I either have a shortage of storage space or, I reluctantly admit, I have too much stuff. Well, I have a partner-in-crime but my husband will never admit it. We’ve been quite the enthusiastic consumers lately and I’m beginning to feel like if I’m not careful, my home may start to look like one of those on that hoarder show.
Perhaps I exaggerate but the overflow books scattered throughout the house and the blog props no longer fitting in their designated closet might be a hint that the problem may not be the lack of space. My parents use a phrase when referring to clutter and disarray: They say their eyes itch. Well, my eyes are itching at the sight of certain spots in my home that need some attention. Friends and family who visit may not see what I see but I know we can make much better use of the space we have. From the linen closet to the kitchen pantry, I need to do some reorganizing. Everything will be classified “stay” or “go” and one key criteria will be the amount of use a particular item gets in the kitchen.
Enter my slow cooker. Admittedly, I don’t use it as much as I should–maybe a few times a year?–but when I do, I’m always so happy that I have it. Maybe if I had a bigger family I would find more need for it but I don’t cook large-batch dishes often enough. But soups are another story. Those recipes that require a long simmer time are ideal candidates for countertop cooking.
This split pea soup had its start on the stove but I let my slow cooker do all the work while I busied myself with errands and chores last weekend. In just two hours I had a hearty, tasty soup that ended up lasting us a few days, only getting better each time I reheated it. This soup is completely meat free but feel free to use a meat stock and/or a ham bone but I promise you that you won’t need either.
My husband announced a day or two ago that he has cleared a cabinet in the kitchen of long-unused items and offered the space for the small items without a home. Instead of jumping at the chance to fill it with random items, I committed to re-arranging all the other drawers and cabinets to see how we can optimize our space. I’m already sure of one thing: some things will have to go but my slow cooker will always have a place with me.
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 small carrots, chopped
- 2½ cups yellow split peas
- 6 cups stock (give or take one cup depending how thick or thin you like your soup)
- 2-3 heaping teaspoons no-salt seasoning (mine has a mixture of dried herbs, onion, garlic and pepper.
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves separated from the stems)
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat then add the shallots, celery, carrots and thyme. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the shallots start to caramelize. Add the no-salt seasoning, curry powder and split peas and cook for another minute or two. If you like, you can add a couple of pinches of salt at this point, too.
- Add the stock and bring to a boil.
- Once the stock boils transfer the entire contents of the pot to the slow cooker and cook on high for about two hours (or low for 3-4 hours). Check the soup once or twice to make sure that enough liquid covers the beans. Don't be tempted to add too much stock at once because the slow cooker will create moisture, too. I added 4 cups initially and later added the last two cups. Also taste for seasoning. I added a bit more salt and seasoning during the cooking time. This will create a medium-thick soup and tastes even better the next day.