Oct 10
2011

Fuji Mama’s Horribly Wrong, Yet Strangely Delicious, Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

in Beans & Legumes, Main Course, Recipes by Type, Slow Cooker, Soup & Stew

I was thinking recently about the “right and wrong” aspect of the human experience.  Not in the moral sense of things (like whether it’s right or wrong to lie to your mom about whether or not you may or may not have eaten the last chocolate chip cookie), but in how we do the little things.  For instance, I was thinking about what Chef Duffy said when I interviewed him last week, about how we need to get back to our roots and to having dinner as a family.  I loved what he said about how it may not be realistic for us to have dinner as a family 6 nights a week, but that even 2 nights a week is something good.  Life isn’t so black and white.  Just because “so-and-so’s” family is able to sit down together as a family for dinner 6 nights a week, doesn’t make it wrong that your family may only be able to have family dinner 3 nights a week.  We need to take into account how individual the human experience is in so many ways, otherwise we will end up just alienating each other.

Split Peas

The same is true with cooking and flavors.  Sometimes I smile at the conversations that develop in the comments to my posts, the posts of others, on twitter, or even among friends chatting over lunch.  I love seeing someone comment about their experience with a dish and another reader excitedly responding, “Me too!” or “Oooh, I hadn’t thought of that!”  But just as often, there is someone who criticizes the experience or tastes of another, passing out labels of “wrong” or “mistaken” as if they were deemed the magistrate over all food experiences for mankind.  While I appreciate that there are “authentic” ways of creating certain dishes, I also believe that there is an equal amount of room for invention, tweaking, and fusion.  Without such deviations from what someone has labeled as “correct” or “right,” we would never have the great innovations in the culinary world of people like Chef Duffy.  We also wouldn’t have our own personal food experiences that bring us joy, comfort, and fond memories.  If we all had to be “correct,” many of us wouldn’t have such fond memories of childhood dishes that our mothers lovingly prepared for us, because those dishes would never have been allowed to see the light of day, due to some grave misstep in culinary laws.

Split pea soup ingredients going into the slow cooker

As I was throwing ingredients into my slow cooker yesterday (and I don’t say throw lightly—I had about 3 minutes to get the slow cooker going before we had to leave, otherwise we were going to be late for church), I giggled as I thought of all the possible unwritten laws I was most likely pulverizing as I built the base of my soup.  An apple, why not? *giggle giggle giggle*  Split pea soup.  A simple dish that has graced many an American dinner table.  Yet there are so many ways to make it, and although I may not be particularly fond of one variation or another, none of them are wrong.  And that, my friends, is what I love about food.  When it comes to food, I am free to be who I am and whoever I want to be.  So what that I’m a short white girl with blond hair who spent her childhood in Southern California?  That doesn’t mean that I can’t prepare my favorite Japanese dishes, tweaking them (sometimes beyond recognition) to suit the ingredients that I have on hand and to the changing tastes of my family.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it! HA! I don’t say this to sound rude, flippant, or even snobby.  I say this because it’s liberating!  Too often we get caught up in the “rules.”  We think we have to do something a certain way because it’s the “authentic” way, or because a recipe “says so.”  When it comes right down to it, what’s most important to me, isn’t that I correctly execute a certain cut or technique, or produce an authentic version of a dish.  What’s most important to me is that it tastes good and that I can feed and nourish my little family and show them that I love them.  Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for rules, and they definitely have their place.  Very often a newly learned rule transforms a home cooked meal from edible to downright fantastic.  But sometimes we miss the forest for the trees when we allow “rules” to dictate our relationship with food.

So with that thought, I’m sharing the “how” of how I made split pea soup for dinner to feed my family yesterday.  We loved it.  Is it “correct”?  Probably not.  Is it the best?  For us yesterday, it was!  Tomorrow, maybe not, because I’ll probably be craving different ingredients!  For you?  Who knows!  But that’s the beauty, right?  So take my recipe for what it’s worth.  Follow it religiously, or not at all.  Love it or hate it.  Use celery instead of apples.  Hate ginger? Skip it!  But here’s to sharing this great big food portion of our human experience, with all its differences and the changes yet to come.  It is my hope that we are all a little less critical of each others’ preferences and experiences so that food can become, for each of us, what’s most important in our own lives, and so that we can get past the “rules” and just get back into the kitchen.  Let’s rejoice in each others discoveries, creativity, and progress.  Bring it on, disasters and all!

Fuji Mama's Horribly Wrong, Yet Strangely Delicious, Split Pea Soup

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Fuji Mama’s Horribly Wrong, Yet Strangely Delicious, Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Makes about 8 servings

Recipe Notes: The cooking times indicated are normally more than adequate to soften split peas. They do not need to be pre-soaked. If you find that your peas are not softening, then you have one of two problems. Either your peas are old enough that they are so dried out that they won’t soften, or the water you are using to make your soup is hard, containing lots of dissolved minerals that prevent the peas from softening. If this happens to you, you may end up having a pot of crunchy soup. My advice? Laugh about it and next time ditch the old peas or use bottled water.

1 (16-ounce) package dried green split peas, rinsed
2 ham hocks
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 medium apple (I used Red Delicious), cored and chopped
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
5 cups vegetable stock

1. Layer the ingredients in the slow cooker in the order given, adding the water last (do not stir the ingredients). Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 8 to 10 hours, until the peas are very soft and the ham is falling off the bone.  Thin with water, if desired.

2. Remove the ham hocks from the pot.  Cut away the outer skin and fat and remove the meat from the bones.  Chop the meat into small pieces, then stir it into the finished soup.  Add additional salt and pepper, as needed and serve.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Tickled Red October 10, 2011 at 5:40 am

Nicely said :D ! Cooking for me is all about having fun, being creative & honoring my traditions while incorporating new experiences. Basically playing around and being adventuresome. DS would love your soup, he has a thing for split pea soup ;)

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

@Tickled Red, Yes! Our kitchens are our canvas, now break out the paints! :)

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Fuji Nana October 10, 2011 at 6:01 am

This variation looks fantastic! I’ll bet the apple added a bit of tart sweetness to mix with the ginger flavor and smoky ham hocks. I can’t wait to try this one!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm

@Fuji Nana, Thank YOU for my love of ham hocks. :)

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Deborah October 10, 2011 at 7:44 am

I totally agree with you!! I don’t think there is a wrong way when it comes to food – just different ways! And I think your soup sounds like the perfect Sunday night dinner.

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm

@Deborah, Thank goodness for different ways! Life would be so boring without them, don’t you think?

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DawnK October 10, 2011 at 8:51 am

I’m not that fond of pea soup, usually, but I’m intrigued and will have to try it anyway! Hubby loves pea soup and I hardly ever make it for him. I love apples and ginger and I’m wondering how that would taste in a pea soup! Will maybe try soon!

I agree that there are different ways to make things and now wrong ways. We had lasagna 3 times a few years ago, within about a month’s time. They were all different and all delicious!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm

@DawnK, I love the thought of having a lasagna themed month…who doesn’t love lasagna?

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sippitysup October 10, 2011 at 8:59 am

Love knows no rules! GREG

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm

@sippitysup, Ever the wise philosopher! :)

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Sarah @ The Cyclist's Wife October 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Very well said! Cooking should be fun, not stressful. Food is an adventure!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm

@Sarah @ The Cyclist’s Wife, Here’s to our future adventures!

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Lyndsey ~The Tiny Skillet October 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm

You are so right! I never went by the “rules” of cooking and that is actually why I enjoy cooking so much is you can make it your way. I can never follow a recipe or I should say I don’t follow it “exact” too often. If it is something that I never made before I like to look at several recipes then make up my own the way I would like it (or my family if that’s who I’m cooking for). One thing having a food blog has made me write down what I am doing…so that is good. I used to bring things to school (work) and everyone would ask for the recipe and I couldn’t give it to them! :)

This is a great version! I like that you made it your way and with what you had available. Personally I would skip the apples (my preference, I don’t care for fruit in savory dishes). But that wouldn’t stop me from making it…just different. Plus I love seeing how others like to make it their way. Funny…I made crock pot slit pea soup this weeken too, haven’t posted yet!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm

@Lyndsey ~The Tiny Skillet, Yes! I love that blogging has made me write things down. I think that I’m a better cook because of it, because I have to make sense of what I’m doing, and thus better understand my successes and failures in the kitchen! Plus, even though I’m horrible at following recipes, I read them voraciously, because you can learn so much from one, even if you don’t follow it!

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Barbara | Creative Culinary October 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I have to wonder by whose rules this could be wrong? I simply can not make a dish without putting my own spin on it…that’s what makes cooking creative and fun for me. Right? Wrong? Who cares (well, unless I’m making something in particular dictated by someone else’s rules…but then now you know why I never wanted to enter the food business!).

I love split pea soup and except for the apple and ginger this is not far off…but I can see how they would add an element of um um good…so good for you. If you’re not having fun doing it why bother, right?

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

@Barbara | Creative Culinary, Seriously! I feel bad for people who cook because they have to. They are missing out on so much fun!!

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Kim Reddin October 10, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Right on with your thoughts in this post! Life is short, so create away and have fun!
Can’t wait to try your version – sounds (and looks) really good!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm

@Kim Reddin, And it has an onion in it, so how could it be bad, right? ;)

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chinmayie @ love food eat October 10, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I can’t agree with you more! Though I like certain thing prepared the ‘authentic’ way I am all for experimentation! There really is no ‘REAL recipe for most ‘REAL’ food! What’s right for me will come completely wrong for you! I think the best things about experimenting is how wonderful recipes are born purely by fluke sometimes! lol…

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

@chinmayie @ love food eat, I hear ya! I’m a huge fan of sushi being “authentic” … but then again, I am guilty of experimenting with sushi way past it being authentic!!

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JimmyB October 11, 2011 at 10:07 am

My Mom was from West TX; we lived in the DC area and she worked. Her cooking was always an adventure, cooking whatever she had on hand. Never measured…..always just tasted and adjusted. Gosh what great flavor memories! There’s a chill in the air….I’m making this soup today!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm

@JimmyB, Love this memory! It’s no wonder it tasted good—she cooked with love!

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Krista {BudgetGourmetMom} October 11, 2011 at 11:33 am

Well said and I must say, the addition of the apple sounds positively delicious! I bet it added a beautiful new level of flavor to this already fantastic soup. You are a treasure in the foodie community (especially to me) and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. xoxo

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

@Krista {BudgetGourmetMom}, The apple was fun…I meant to put celery in, then realized I didn’t have any! Then I spotted an apple sitting on the counter, and though, “Why not?” I’m good at random.

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Kasee {The Apron Gal} October 12, 2011 at 9:42 am

I completely agree! Cooking is up to the individual and there should never be a set “right or wrong” way to do things. Thanks for reminding other food bloggers about that! Sometimes we are too critical and we should just enjoy good food no matter how it comes! I think this sounds awesome. Love your blog.

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

@Kasee {The Apron Gal}, Thanks Kasee!

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Holly October 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Best. Post. Ever.

You are a genius, I love you and I love this soup and will be making it while tweaking and giggling away. I love that you said all that so clearly and hit the nail on the head perfectly!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm

@Holly, And now I’m giggling…

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SMITH BITES October 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

a breath of fresh air Rachael and BRAVO!!! while i almost NEVER follow a recipe as written, The Professor follows a recipe to. a. tee. and i mean absolutely, positively to a tee – the thought would never, ever occur to him that he might change it. recipe says cook jam 10 minutes or until thick? 10 minutes baby!! but the beauty here is that we both allow each other to be who we are – neither judges the other when we cook; when he’s in charge, i’m the sous chef and i follow his lead and vice-versa . . . and it works beautifully!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

@SMITH BITES, EXACTLY! We all have our own methods and quirks, and THANK GOODNESS for that!

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Fuji Papa October 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm

As someone who has put a few weird ingredients together myself, I say, you are a chip off the old block (a marble chip off a conglomerate block, but nevertheless a chip).

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Cathy/ShowFoodChef October 12, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Oh, I love this! I bet the apple would taste great. I don’t remember even seeing measuring cups in my grandma’s kitchen. I think, like you, I do both – and I’ve always read recipes as if they were stories as long as I can remember. Then, I use them as ratio guides. But, also I sometimes give myself the challenge of “hmmm, what can I make out of these ingredients and go”. I’m a Nerddddddddd :D Love ya.

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jenjenk October 20, 2011 at 8:44 am

that sounds wonderful!!! I love split pea soup and love the idea of adding apples! I’m going to have to do this since the weather’s already gotten so chilly!! :)

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Natalie F October 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I found this recipe on pinterest and decided to try it. It was great! My husband thought I was crazy when I was cutting apples for the soup but it turned out amazing. It was a little sweet so we added some green hot sauce to the soup. I also made it too salty some how so I blended some frozen peas with a little bit of the soup and mixed it in.

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