With a gaggle of teenagers over during this snowy and cold school break week, I was hard at work in the kitchen flinging 3 hots and multiple snacks in their direction. Their normally ravenous adolescent appetites were further stoked by an afternoon of tubing at Willard Mountain.
What's tubing, you say? Well, it's a fancy version of sledding and a much cheaper version of skiing. One dresses in warm layers of outerwear that don't have to come from a designer ski shop, at least two pairs of socks, sturdy boots and some waterproof gloves (mittens tend to fly off on the descent). Then you head to a ski slope (we paid $15 each for 2 hours of tubing) where you get a big, puffed-up inner tube on a leash. With reggae music booming, the attendant hooks your leash to a tow rope that drags you up the mountain, dumps you off at the top and then a burly farm kid sends you down straight or spinning down the snowy incline where you brake at the bottom over piles of hay.
It's outrageously fun and even an old chaperone like me with minimal athletic skills can enjoy it. Which I did. As evidenced by all the hay sticking to my fleece jacket. Just got a couple of bruises from not remembering to keep my hind end from drooping too low in the inner tube.
All that icy air got those teenage engines roaring, so it was back to the Crispy Kitchen to make vats of ziti and a salad bar. Dan and I enjoyed a simpler, satisfying supper of Pea Soup. Most pea soup recipes traditionally include a ham bone or bits of chopped ham, but I added a touch of olive oil and smoked paprika for my vegetarian version, full of chunky bits of other veggies. It was satisfying and restorative; just the thing for apres-tubing on a cold winter's night.
And did I mention that Split Pea Soup is Cheap Eats? I figure it cost $3 or $4 to make this pot of soup, and we have enough for 8-10 mug servings.
Hearty, Smoky Vegetarian Pea Soup
1 lb. dried split peas
1 onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 stalks celery, chopped coarsely
6 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika
Pick through split peas to remove any pebbles or odd-looking peas. Rinse and drain.
Place in soup pot with onion, garlic, carrot, celery and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover pot and simmer until peas are tender and start to break down, about 30 minutes.
At this point, you can mash up the soup with a potato masher or leave chunky as you like. I like a smooth base with bits of chunky vegetables, so I used my newest kitchen gadget (a thrift shop find for $2!), a Braun immersion blender to puree up about half of the soup.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Swirl in olive oil and smoked paprika and serve hot.
Makes 8 big mugs of soup.
I'm sending a mug of this hearty, healthy, frugal and warming soup over to my buddy Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her weekly Souper Sundays roundup. Head on over to Honolulu-based Kahakai Kitchen (where they go surfing instead of tubing) after Sunday's deadline to see all the great soup recipes that pour in each week for this event.