I love fall. More, I love cooking in fall. It feels like my element. I can roast poultry and vegetables and make hot bean soups. I think I'm able to throw together some chop for a salad fairly well, but it's not the same as having a steaming bowl or plate of warm waiting for you at the table.

On that note, I've branched out in the world of stocks; I made a seafood stock. I'm not going to give you the recipe for it. Stock recipes, to my mind, are counter-productive. For one thing, you can throw just about anything in a stock pot and it fits the bill, including apple or pear peels if you were feeling ambitious enough. What I will talk about are some basic ingredients for a stock and what you might desire to get the general flavor. You should always, however, branch out. I threw a whack of diced fennel into my seafood stock, for instance, because it had tasted damn good with the mussels I'd eaten originally. Keep in mind, too, that stocks and broths are not just for soups! Add them to rice, a casserole or use to poach instead of water.

A note--I will not mention bay leaves, salt or pepper below. They should probably be added to all of them. (A note on pepper, though: Add whole peppercorns rather than cracked pepper or ground pepper. Unless you want to strain your stock with a coffee filter, too much of that pepper will stay behind.)


A brief thought on how. Old-school stock making is slightly more time-consuming when you have to dip and scoop foam off the top of the pot all the time. If you have a slow cooker you can literally dump ingredients and forget about them forever. Whatever you're cooking will only get better and if you want to get rid of fats from meat stocks, skim the fat off the top once it's cold and solid, if you must. Otherwise, fats provide a nice protective layer over the rest of your stock.


I would encourage you to save all your vegetable scraps for vegetable stock. Not even just for vegetable--save it all for any stock! I recently purchased a whole chicken and after eating the breasts, the bones went in the pot and the dark meat was torn up to go into pot pies. Everything but the skin off the back half of the chicken was used and reused--feels good! Onion and garlic skins and everything can be saved.

Now, I have heard people classify vegetable stocks into light and dark...

(Which, by the way, I should be calling broths. Small tidbit that I wasn't aware of until last year: Stocks are the ones that go gelatinous when they're cold. Their jello-ness comes from the fact that there was bones or joints or some other such in the pot. If you haven't been able to get to the gelatinous stage, some people suggest cracking small bones open or adding chickens' feet to the pot. Personally I couldn't be bothered and mine always come out fine. Stocks supposedly contain more nutrition, though I fail to see how pure vegetable stocks (sorry, 'broths') would not be nutritious seeing as you've boiled up a bunch of veggies. Anywho. I'm no scientist, I suppose. Broths are the ones that are lighter, thinner, free of gelatin and supposedly less nutritious. I might be missing some definitive markers in here, but that's the gist of it.)

Light stocks might include things such as onions, garlic, bits of fruit, carrots, mushrooms, celery, etc.

Dark stocks might include heavier vegetables such as portabellos, turnips, etc. Dark stocks would also benefit from your roasting the vegetables before you boil them to death. Enriches the whole thing.

One thing to avoid may be cabbages. I've never tried them myself as I've heard they have a rather overwhelming flavor and will take over a stock if given the chance. Personally? Unless I'm trying to recreate a vegetarian stock to sub for a beef stock as in when I try to make my sister French Onion Soup, I just mash it all together, roasted or not, 'dark' and 'light', and let it simmer a good long time. Or, now that I have my slow cooker, let it slow cook overnight, for instance.


I'm less variable with chicken stocks. Chicken is a primary, of course. Carrots, celery, onion, garlic. I'm actually a big fan of leeks rather than traditional onions in chicken stock. Have an idea for a spicy soup eventually? Throw in some whole dried chilies. Also, don't get rid of the "garbage" pieces! For instance, when I spatchcock a chicken, I save that backbone for the stock pot.


Being that we almost never make red meat in this house, it's rather more difficult to tell you what to put in a beef stock. I would probably treat it the same way I treat pork stock. If I'm making pulled pork, I'll put the roast in the slow cooker, slice up an onion in large rings to dump over it and cover it all with water. Very basic, but a beautiful, rich stock at the end. Likewise, I've boiled hamhocks into times unknown with awesome results. Perhaps for a Split Pea Soup?


I'd never tried to make a seafood stock before. But after making two pounds of mussels it seemed to me a rather damn shame to just toss out all the scraps. In this case, my scraps were the emptied shells (a few with bits of meat still in there) and a few mussels that had been broken or already dead and open or what have you. I've been dreaming of a couple chowders I'd like to make and it seemed stupid to dump chicken stock into a chowder when I had all the fixings for a good seafood base. A caveat about using mussels, however: make sure your mussels (particularly the broken ones) are very, very clean. You may have to strain this one through a coffee filter anyway as it's rather difficult to be sure you've gotten all the grit out of a broken mussel. I had rope-cultivated mussels which were very clean to begin with so I was relatively safe. I've also done this with uncooked shrimp tails and fish scraps if I've trimmed down a fillet or some such.

I don't think you'll see many recipes for seafood broths anyway, but I threw all the mussels in there, onion, that fennel bulb, a few grape tomatoes that had nearly spoiled, garlic, some carrot tops... A lot of the usual basics for a stock, plus some thyme and parsley. Always add a spice you find familiar to the family of flavors you're building if you have it. Preferably whole, so you have less mishegas to strain out.

One last tip: In the case of stocks/broths I've done where the smell isn't quite right? Not deep or rich enough? I'll actually use that liquid as part of the covering liquid for another batch of broth/stock with, say, more chicken if they previous one hadn't quite smelled chicken-y enough. If the smell doesn't come through, the taste won't come through.

Any secret ingredients you really love in a stock?


Project: Spicy Oil

Flavored oils are easily attained in your own kitchen.  Try poaching a head of garlic in a giant pot of oil someday instead of roasting it in the oven.  You'll get the same sweet, delicious garlic and a pot of garlic oil for bread-dipping to boot.

Flavored oils are attainable by hot or cold infusion.  Hot infusion is the faster method: you do something like poaching garlic or hot peppers or (sturdy) herbs and then blend and strain the results.  I adore this cold infusion method (which actually uses the heat of the sun), however, as you end up with a bottle full of pretty in addition to great food.

Oils aren't just for dipping.  The obvious other choice is dressing--a friend used this oil and a maple balsamic to make a killer spicy-sweet vinaigrette.  You can dress pasta as well as greens--mild cheese ravioli with a spicy drizzle can give a dish the life it needs.  Use it in a stir-fry.  Use it to enhance another sauce.

There's plenty to do and much to go around.  I'm leaving a recipe for spicy oil here but you can easily take any combination that suits your fancy.  Add citrus zest.  Add the incredibly excessive numbers of flowers your basil plant insists on producing.  Whatever.  Just use more than you think you need!  It'll reward you with a magnificent potency.

Of course, this is a project. I love kitchen projects, which, in my mind, are different than recipes. When you are bound to wait at least a few weeks for something to finally be ready, it's not a recipe. This oil, which I chose to do by cold infusion, is by necessity a project. Plus, it's beautiful, what with all the whole spices floating about inside the bottle.

Spicy Olive Oil

1 (500 ml) bottle oil

(Don't bother with the good stuff; the heat will override any natural flavor.)

7 or 8 whole, dried chilies

4 sprigs rosemary

3 clove garlic, smashed

3 tsp red pepper flakes

whole peppercorns

I prefer to work with a bottle I've emptied into another vessel, but at a minimum you should be displacing the top third of the liquid to ensure there's no overfill

Using a funnel, roll peppercorns into the bottle until you have approximately 3/4-1 inch settled at the bottom. Add red pepper flakes and garlic.

Bend the chilis a little to open up their oils and feed them into the bottle; don't damage these too much. They're part of the looking-pretty bit I mentioned earlier. Do the same with the rosemary, crushing the piney leaves a bit and breaking the stem in a couple of places to release their oil and scent.

Place the oil in a sunny window for at least a month, or more if you're feeling patient. Turn gently about once a week to evenly distribute the flavors.

Use to saute, dip bread, marinate, etc.

Note: You may want to select a light colored glass if your original bottle was not such so you can better enjoy the arrangement once it's sitting in your kitchen.  Refrigeration will extend shelf life; the oil can last for months.  It will appear cloudy in the fridge but will clear up at room temperature.


Middle Eastern Feastern

Welp, I'm back on one of my Middle Eastern kicks. I thought I'd enjoy the journey with you and yours since I've been enjoying myself and am quite proud of the whole thing here to boot.

And, best of all, all of these recipes are available online for free due to the generosity and creativity of several geniuses listed below...

Now, I'll say first off that normally I'd make my own hummus. However, the store was out of tahini (or doesn't carry it anymore? I'd swear I've seen it there before). So, store-bought on that count. Otherwise, however, I'm partial to Mr. Smith's recipe, for the record. I just tend to up the garlic (yeah, because that's necessary, given the rest of this meal).

First up in actual cooking? The turnips. You should actually do these a few days in advance (not one day in advance, like me). They take a few days to get that excellent salt-vinegar tang to them. However, mine have finally achieved perfect color (get a big beet).

The recipe is in this thread, but I'm going to list it below as well in case Chowhound decides to archive their forums or some such.

Okay my recipe for pink turnip pickles is as follows

2 lbs of turnips
1 beet peeled and cut
3 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup vinegar
2 Tbs salt
3/4 tsp of sugar

Chop vegetables into appropriately sized sticks. Mix liquids with seasonings until dissolved. Combine them, stir, leave covered approx five days. Once finished pickling, refrigerate.

The above makes an awful lot, so I've halved the liquids/salt/sugar and chopped up 2 turnips and a large beet to make the picture above.

Next up: Thoom (Garlic Sauce)

I'm going to tell you straight-up that I still haven't got the trick of this one. Basically, the idea is that if you emulsify enough oil with the garlic, you get this light, fluffy sauce. I've yet to get it as smooth or as creamy as other creators seem to and I've tried it a couple times. My only hints so far? Add oil very slowly and do not try this with a food processor. Too big.

In today's version, I tried this person's method after picking up and discarding several other recipes and websites. I haven't tried adding the egg white--that may be the next trick I give a shot. Also, while I'm going to tell you straight up that I used an immersion blender, you can also grind the garlic to a paste using a mortar and pestle and then emulsify with a whisk.

Next up: Tabouleh

I find tabouleh to be a critical part of my Middle Eastern Feastern because a) the parsley tone is critical, to my mind and b) tabouleh was one of the first Middle Eastern foods I ever fell in love with. Thank you, Mega Wraps Guy in conjunction with My Mom for getting me to try it all those years ago.

While the base is here, I've modified a bit in that picture. I knew I'd want some cucumber so that's in there; a little bit of garlic (a no-no in traditional circles); and I switched out the bulgur wheat entirely. I wanted some more protein, some more cals-per-bite since this is going to be my primary belly-stuffer. So, quinoa, that holy "complete food". I should add, however, that bulgur wheat does in fact have a good bit of protein in it and significantly less fat. I also just like quinoa and am trying to fill this sucker out.

Next up: Falafel

Here's where it gets ugly. Up until now, we've had thrilling colors, creamy consistencies, bright salads... Falafel is ugly. It crumbles, it's a funny shade of yellow-green and uncooked it's about as appetizing as any other mash.

Aren't you excited?

For my first real homemade falafel (read, not out of a box mix falafel), I used the lovely Mrs. Charmian's recipe. I followed her lead and soaked some chickpeas overnight. This meant I ended up with fewer peas than I'd meant to (I get very loose with my dried bean measurements).

I also, see above, did not have the called-for tahini. So. Some adjustments.

Double the spices. I'm telling you that now. I like the combination, but my first few patties were not that flavorful. This is just too much chickpea to flavor with individual teaspoons. And add some cayenne. I also had some zata'ar on hand so I added a couple heaping teaspoons of that.

What did I do instead of tahini? I improvised. I dumped in nearly a quarter cup of sesame seeds and added olive oil as I went for texture. I think with the lack of tahini, my mix was overall dryer, so I was easier on the breadcrumbs in the final step as well.

Next up: Pitas

Well, we gotta have something to put all this stuff in, don't we? Enter the humble pita.

These bad boys are thrilling to make since, when you make them right, they're a little show in your oven as they puff.

Now, I don't care what measurements this man's website gives you about rolling. Make them as thin as possible. Thin, thin, thin! This gives you the best puff for your buck.

This recipe gave me pitas with fluff and absolutely fantastic pockets. They came open so easily it was ridiculous. Lastly, I made mine with 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour for some additional texture.

And that, my friend, is a Middle Eastern Feastern, vegetarian style. I have some plans in the making for a chicken shwarma recipe of my very own, but you all will just have to wait until we've at least gotten past Meatless Monday. Jeez.


Choc-a-block Chicken Soup

Mother Nature, if your intent with this wicked-bad non-spring-ish weather was to make me desire one last giant pot of soup, then you have succeeded. Frankly, if it wasn't, I don't know what the point is because I'm sure you don't like seeing us miserable. You wouldn't've made such fine and beautiful things come out later in spring if you liked miserable.

Or, and here's a theory, maybe you knew I had some cooked chicken meat that needed using up.

Chock-a-Block Chicken Soup

I cannot make a small soup. I am incapable. I thought, before starting this, "I'll just make enough for tonight, lunch tomorrow and maybe one more to freeze."

Hah. I should've never believed me.

This soup ends up being pretty thick with stuff (it's chock-a-block, duh), although I still wouldn't classify it as a stew--the broth's too thin, in my mind. As with all my soups, this one is a gigantaur. Feel free to adjust.

6.5 oz egg noodles (or 180 grams)
1 Tbsp oil
2 cups (1 large) leeks, thinly sliced
1 cup diced carrots
5 cups broth
3 cups water
1 1/2 cup chopped, cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
5 mushrooms, quartered
1 cup frozen corn niblets
2 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp red pepper flakes
salt & pepper
squeeze of lemon

Bring the water to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a big ol' saucepot and add the leeks and the carrots. Salt them now, as it'll help them sweat a bit. I like leeks for a few reasons--they're mild, their smell evokes chicken soup to me like no other, and they're much prettier floating around in soup than their diced white counterparts. The measurement sounds like a lot. This was a big leek. Plus, they break apart and fluff the second you move those pretty rings. Stir occasionally over very low heat; the idea is not to brown, for once.

Stirred to softness? Good. Your water's probably boiled, so go dump the noodles in.

Add broth and water to your aromatics, then the chicken and garlic. Black pepper it. Stir, then bring this to a simmer for ten minutes or so.

Take your noodles out at about half that time, five minutes. They're a little al-dente at this stage but that's good--you'll cook them a little when they're added to the soup (don't add them straight in; you'll loose too much liquid) and probably cook them again when you rewarm the soup some later day.

Now that we've simmered, add the quick-cooking vegetables and the herbs: the zucchini, mushrooms, frozen corn, thyme, parsley (note fresh vs. dried amts!), red pepper flakes, and that squeeze of lemon. Fear not--the red pepper flakes are not enough to make a vat of soup this size truly spicy. Rather, they lend warmth. But you're gonna reduce them anyway, so whatever, go ahead.

Squeeze a wedge of lemon in. No, seriously. It'll be nice. I'm debating just adding some of my minced preserved lemons next time.

Add the noodles. Stir, let this all simmer five minutes more.

Serve with some sort of bread.



Remember how I said I'm not lavish?

I said nothing at all about decadence.

My favorite thing about having guests over is cooking for them. Therefore, when two of our very good friends came over, I broke out all the stops for dessert.

I chose cheesecake, obviously because I'd never made it before and I was trying to impress people. Sounds logical, right?

Let me repeat something: I'd never made cheesecake before. And yes, this recipe is mine. I have discovered a so-far well-tested procedure for new recipes and thus far, it's working out pretty well. There is also the added benefit of being able to tell you what I screwed up because, as a first-timer, my mistakes were visceral and obvious.

For one thing, I started too late. The above picture was taken before the cake had properly set, accounting for it's slightly gooey appearance. But dinner was done and I wanted to try it so bad. (For the record, taste is unaffected at this point, but the finished texture of cheesecake is more appealing to me.)

Before we begin, I'd like to tell you about Christie's Corner in brief. That link will take you straight to her no-crack-cheesecake bible page, which I also studied extensively before undertaking this work. Christie, a fellow Cana-jun, eh, appears to be a fabulously lovely lady who runs a great food blog. Proof: My cake did not crack. She does a whole lot better than that, even, but that's for another post.

Chocolate Cheesecake with Decadent Accents

I'm going to be honest and tell you this should probably be a two day project of yours. The toppings are enough work for one day and the cake itself for another. It also feels like less of a crush this way. And trust me. This is so worth it.

You do, of course, have the option of not following the recipe and making your life a little easier by omitting complicated sauces and toppings and just getting to the damn cake. Just a thought. I won't be mad.


1 1/4 cup graham crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 unsalted butter, melted


4 oz dark chocolate


3 (250g or 8 oz) pkgs cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp extra-strong instant coffee*
1 tsp vanilla

For the crust, pour the graham and the sugar into a bowl and mix. Melt the butter and pour over the graham. Mix some more. Grease the pan, add your parchment paper layer at the bottom if you're going to, and then pack the graham into an even layer on the bottom of a 9" spring form pan. I left this in the fridge to give it some solidity while I was making the next layer.

For the filling, melt the chocolate. Go long and slow with it in a double-boiler. That sounds fancy. I melted this in a cheap, metal bowl sitting in the mouth of a just-simmering pot of water. Don't actually allow the bowl to get immersed in the water--good way to burn the chocolate. In my case, it probably took longer because my pieces were perhaps larger than some. I hate chopping chocolate--it's messy and flies everywhere and smears into things you didn't even think it was near. But I wanted that "snap" layer Christie's page mentioned, so goddamnit, I chopped chocolate. I then spread that over the graham layer as quickly as possible--it moves best when hot and you just poured it onto a cool if not cold surface. Try to make this a THIN layer--think about cutting a slice of cake through that solidified chocolate.

Throw these two layers in the fridge while you make the filling.

We're down to filling, people. This is an exciting moment. For some of you, this is the only moment, and I don't blame you a damn bit. I would've eaten this stuff out of the bowl. Happily.

Leave the cream cheese out a good long while. It needs to be room temperature if not warm to beat properly. Otherwise you do get little dots of unmixed cheese in your filling. I did, in fact. And I left those bricks out for hours. I'll flat-out warm them a touch next time.

Full disclosure: I beat this with a stand mixer. You can totally do it with the power of thine arm, though. It's just going to take longer.

Beat together the cream cheese and the sugar, starting with one chopped block of cheese and adding the rest gradually.

Add the second batch of melted chocolate. This is a labor of love. It takes a long time to melt this much chocolate. Read a book while you idly stir.

Slowly, gently, beat in the sour cream and the rest of the liquid ingredients. I believe that the science says that if you beat rapidly and fiercely, you'll add air to the batter and artificially inflate the cake. It's a heavy cake; it'll fall on itself when it cools and you'll be sad.

Pour that filling into the pan. Bake for approximately an hour at 300 degrees. Slow and steady.

I used the bain marie technique, and as I say, no cracks. It was a little fussy, though. I will probably try without next time, just to see.

Give it an hour or so to cool outside the bath once it's done baking. Then throw it in the fridge for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

Pomegrante Puree

Look at that colour!

I fixed this portion of the dessert up before the cake was a figment of my imagination. Originally, I intended for it to be a substitute for pomegranate molasses in one of Mrs. Rule's vinaigrettes but after tasting it, decided it should be an addition to, oh, just about everything.

2 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Throw arils (I found a regular-size pomegranate to be about 2 cup's worth) and water into a small pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer, covered, for about fifteen minutes.

Throw the contents of the pot into a blender. Blend until arils are pulverized, but do not expect a puree at this point. The seeds at the heart of the aril will studiously avoid your blender's blades. Pour the pomegranate back into the pot through a metal sieve. It's helpful to use a flexible spatula to mash the remaining seeds back and forth, scraping the bottom of the sieve to preserve as much of the aril's pureed flesh and juice as possible. Discard seeds.

Add maple syrup to the pot and stir well. Bring the mixture back to a simmer. Allow to simmer covered for five minutes to make sure the syrup and fruit is blended, then remove cover and reduce for approximately twenty minutes to half an hour, depending on your desired consistency. Remember the puree will thicken as it cools as well.

So, you're done? I congratulate you. I will tell you what I did to plate it, then. Though, I'll warn you, I'm no expert and it probably could have been presented much more beautifully.

I knew this would be heavy so I used the sauces (yes, multiple, as you'll see in a moment) as something to relieve the palette. Firstly, I poured a pool of the pomegranate puree beneath the cake. I set a slice of the cake down right in the middle of it. Then I drew an arc of creme anglais
around the side of the plate. I set a couple of mint leaves into the cream for color and a little infusion, if they sat there long enough. Then I pressed a finger-full of slivered almonds into the top of the slice for a peak.

And...there you have it. An absurdly decadent, ridiculously time-consuming chocolate cheesecake that will make you close your eyes and press your tongue through the chocolate just to feel it.

*Extra-Strong Instant Cofffe

2 1/2 Tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp instant coffee

Love a little coffee spark in my chocolate. Mix ingredients.


Apolopeas and Ham for Radio Silence

Now, I didn't figure this was going to be the active-est of blogs, but I didn't expect myself to tumble into THIS kind of silence. Oopie.

As penance, I hand you probably my favorite soup, during one of your last chances to make those really long-cook winter meals.

I give you, my Split Pea and Ham Soup.

Or as it is now known, my Apolopeas and Ham Soup.

My husband does not share my adoration for beans and lentils and peas, and I won't tell you what he thinks they look like cooked, so this recipe is for me alone. This means that I have made an enormous vat of soup all for myself. Luckily, soup always freezes. Now, I've never made split pea soup until now as most every recipe I've come across requests that I use a ham hock for flavor and meat. I had yet to ever see something in the grocery store which called itself a ham hock and therefore I never made it, feeling that boiling a hunk of cooked, smoked ham would be somehow inadequate.

(Though, now having made pea/bean soup with both a ham hock and a hunk of cooked ham, I can tell you that the hock does lend a certain smoky flavor and the shredded, unprocessed meat gives the soup a far more traditional mouth feel. A rustic feel, you might say. I think it’s lovely, but the more processed, pre-cooked hams are not awful by a long shot.)

So I pined after the perfect split-pea concoction from a can for years, never finding it, and wishing, strangely, that Tim Horton's would just sell me theirs. (I'm a salt junkie; I'm sorry.)

A few days after we moved to our new home in Toronto, I went visiting the Culinarium. Amongst their gorgeous products (and produce), I saw, in the bottom right corner of a freezer, a triangular shape wrapped in butcher's paper labeled 'ham hock'. I knew, immediately, what I had to do.

Now, I need to explain to you that I bought this enormous hunk of meat without thinking about any recipe. When I got it home and realized I'd purchased a 3 1/2 pound hock and that it was too big to even fully fit in my soup pot, I was a little daunted. That said, I managed, and I will tell you just how so based on my experience. But I might recommend you look at getting a bigger pot or a smaller piece of meat. As it is, I have a bunch of leftover meat and four cups of beautiful, rich ham stock.

So, without further ado...

Split Pea Soup with Ham

Now, you are being warned--this is one of those recipes that I did not measure as I went. I am guesstimating the amounts I think I used here. If something looks wrong to you, adjust as necessary.

This is a half-day recipe for sure, if not longer, depending on your belly's noise levels. It is, however, a half-day recipe that doesn't need a lot of tending, so you can probably do as I did and get on with household chores in the mean time.

3 1/2 lbs ham hock
2 cups split green peas
3 smallish carrots
1/2 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 bay leaves
splash of liquid smoke
ham stock
salt and pepper to taste

In the morning, start your stock. My hock stood up out of the pot by a few inches so I filled it with as much water as I dared and got it bubbling. Top off the water every couple of hours if necessary to get as much of the hock submerged as possible. Eventually, the meat at the bottom softens and you can push the whole thing down a little more (I never quite got the whole thing in, however). Let it simmer away, skimming occasionally, for approximately three hours or more. Remove hock from the stock and let it cool. Pour out the liquid into a separate container and reserve.

When the hock has cooled enough to handle, pull off and dice up 1 1/4 cups of meat. Reserve the rest of the meat for another use.

Dice the carrots, onion and garlic. Sautee in the butter for five minutes to soften. Please note I specify unsalted butter. The ham is already plenty salty. You probably don’t really need to add to it, and this is coming from a salt addict. Dump the rinsed split peas into the pot, the meat, the bay leaves and the smoke.

Pour in four and a half cups of stock and four cups of water. Stir everything up, cracking pepper over the whole lot. Resist adding salt until near the end so you can get an idea of how much the stock has flavored things. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for approximately an hour or more, or until the peas have cooked and disintegrated to your desired consistency (I prefer the whole thing to be very soft and not highly textured, so I cook it for a long time).

This soup will thicken again as it cools; add water back in as necessary.

And, as always, the really awful picture to go with it.

(Do you like my staging? How I didn't even think to try to get this oozing green mash out of the messy pot?)