I often enjoy looking at an unfashionable ingredient such as yellow split peas and create a dish that hopefully people will love and want to recreate themselves.
There are two types of split peas, green and yellow. Green split peas are sweeter and less starchy than the milder yellow split peas. Being more naturally starchy, yellow split peas bond better with the stock and thus give the soup a creamier texture.
Before the invention of refrigeration, all dried pulses played an important in people's diet. They are a cheap, low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, but these days they are undervalued and underused.
To Soak or Not Soak?
Some people tell you to soak split peas some say you don't need to. Me, I soak my split peas in cold water about 4-5 hours before I wish to use them (storing them in the fridge). Soaking does shorten the cooking time but don't soak them for longer than overnight.If you soak them for several days this might cause the peas to germinate and thus taste off.
Is a stunningly good air dried ham from the Styrian region of Austria ,lower in saltiness but big on flavour. If you are unable to source this then use an unsmoked good quality air dried ham. For more about this amazing undiscovered gem, you can visit their site and look out for a future blog post about my trip to Styria,which is known as the larder of Austria.
Ingredients (serves 4-5 good portions)
300g (12 oz) Yellow Split peas (soaked in cold water )
6 roughly chopped Shallots
1 pinch of Saffron strands
1 large diced carrot
I medium leek well washed & diced
2 litres (3.52 pints) Chicken stock
6- 8 small Basil leaves
8 mini Chicken fillets
50g Vulcano air dried ham
1 clove garlic crushed
4 tablespoons Olive oil
- Drain off the water from the peas and rinse them in more cold water, then drain the peas.
- Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, add the shallots, carrot, leek and cook on a medium heat, for 5 minutes without browning.
- Add the peas, chicken stock & garlic and simmer.
- Place the saffron strands in a teacup and cover with boiling water,leave for 2 minutes to infuse then add the saffron & water to the soup.
- Cook the soup until all the ingredients are tender then liquidise in a food processor until smooth. *For additional smoothness you can also strain the soup through a fine strainer. If you choose to do this make sure you press through as much of the pulp as possible so you don’t lose too much!
- Season with salt & white pepper.
- Lay a piece of cling film on a clean cutting board and place 6 mini fillets equally spaced. Cover with a second piece of cling film and use a meat bat to gently beat and enlarge the fillets so they cook quicker. Repeat the process until you have batted out all 12 mini fillets.
- Heat up a ribbed griddle pan if you own one, rub the remaining olive oil onto the chicken and when the pan is hot, place the chicken on it at a 45-degree angle. Cook for about 3 minutes then turn the chicken over and repeat.
Cook the chicken until the juices running from it are clear but be careful not to overcook, or it will be dry. Season the chicken during the grilling process.
Warm your bowls and make sure the soup is hot. Cut the sliced ham into very thin matchstick (julienne) slices.
Cut each mini chicken fillets into 3-4 longs strips.
Stack the basil leaves then roll them and carefully cut the stack into thin ribbons.
Ladle the soup into the bowls then, gently add the chicken, ham & finally the basil.
Many soup recipes on the internet are way too thick and look like porridge or something worse,rather than a bowl of soup. A Puree type of soup like this should have some substance but should not be so thick as to make it a challenge to finish the bowl.
Serve the soup with some flavoured bread rolls such as black olive or sundried tomato (either will go well with the ingredients is this soup).
©Kevin Ashton 2016