It doesn’t usually snow too much in Victoria BC. And when it does, it’s a big deal. I think you either love it or hate it.
The locals seem to love it because it’s a rare treat, but the people who winter here or like myself, actually moved here to escape the misery of a typical Canadian winter, are really not impressed. Sure, it looks nice, but if you actually have to go anywhere, it’s a bit of an ordeal. It’s already day two now and not even a hint of anyone plowing our parking lot.
The really sad thing is seeing people trying to shovel their walks with garden rakes and hoes!
Like I said, it looks pretty.
So when it’s cold and snowy out and you can’t really get to the store, what can you make to warm the cockles? Time to clean out the fridge.
I dragged out my old friend the dutch oven and fired her up on the stove top.
The first thing I tossed in where a few links of mild Italian sausage. But you could use the sausage of your choice, or some chopped up bacon or left over chicken, or if you want it meat free then you could just use extra onion.
I heated the sausages till they were cooked almost all the way through then removed them to a bowl. I didn’t line the bowl with paper towel to absorb the excess fat because I like to return it to the pot for flavour but this is up to you.
The same can be said, if you are looking for less saturated fat, at this time you could wipe out the pot, add olive and heat it up before adding:
- 1 diced onion
- 1 peeled and diced carrot
- 2 stalks of diced celery
Otherwise, just toss these items into the sausage drippings and cook till they get a little colour on them. And don’t be worried if there are still bits of sausage stuck to the bottom and seem like they are burning. THIS is where flavour comes from.
At this point you can add whatever else you might want to get rid of in your fridge that seems reasonable in a soup. I had a few stray asparagus stalks that I diced up very small and a chunk of green cabbage that got shredded up and tossed in to the mix.
But we still needed something worthy of the snowy night, so I searched the pantry and came up with some nice split yellow peas. I thoroughly rinsed about a cup and a half of peas and then tossed them in the pot. Stirring them in with all the vegetables till they are well mixed.
At this point, a good splash of red wine vinegar will liven up the party.
Always make sure to take your face away when adding vinegar to a hot pot because the steam it gives off is very nasty if it gets up your nose!
You can also add whatever spices you might want. I added some smokey cumin, some dried thyme, maybe some curry power and definitely a good shot of salt and pepper.
If you are using the sausage, this is a good time to add it back in. Cut them up into bite size morsels and return them to the pot. ( with the juice if so desired) If you are using other pre-cooked protein I would still wait a bit before adding it to the soup so it doesn’t get lost and boil down to nothing.
Mix this all up for a minute or two, then it’s time to add the liquid, enough to just cover all the ingredients already in the pot. The stock of your choice would be good, but plain old water is perfectly fine. Stir it all up, slap on the lid and bring it to a rolling boil.
Once it boils, turn it down till it is just gently rolling , replace the lid and then go about your business. You will start to smell it cooking, so have a peak from time to time and give her a stir and add more liquid if it starts to get too thick.
The split peas will probably need at least an hour to cook. That’s why this is a good snowy afternoon project.
Okay, so when you are getting close to eating time, say 15 minutes out, I added some small brown mushrooms roughly chopped in chunks to give a more meaty feel and 2 or three leaves of kale chopped into reasonable bites and tossed them in. This is also when you could toss in your cooked chicken, or left over roast beef, if you were using that. I also added a shot or two of Worcestershire sauce. But you could use some soya sauce, or even hot sauce……that’s the beauty of it…..whatever inspires you.
Heat for about 10 to 15 minutes more on lower heat and then turn it off for a few minutes before eating.
Get out your bowls and in our case we toasted up some left over foccocia bread, but any crusty bread or cracker and you are in business.
Who cares if it’s snowing…….in Victoria!