In Southern California, we have this thing we call “June gloom”. For some reason in most of the month of June, the marine layer comes far inland to the valleys and hangs around until the early afternoon. This is always a nice surprise because it gives you a chance to bundle up in the morning, go running outside and not fry, curl up under a blanket with a good book.
Because of this weather, I was feeling the need for something warm to eat, some sort of comfort food. I looked in the fridge, saw carrots and celery, and the first thing that came to mind was split pea and barley soup. Have you ever had split pea soup? I always thought it was kind of strange–I mean, I love the color green, but a liquid colored green that you eat with a spoon? I finally tried some that a family friend made about five years ago…and realized what I had been missing all this time. Mmmmm…deliciousness.
I usually start out with one carrot (if I have it), a few stalks of celery (if I have them), and an onion, all diced. After all the vegetables are sauteed in olive oil (or splashes of water for oil-free cooking), I add about 1 and half cups of split peas and about 5 cups of liquid (vegetable broth if going vegan; water with salt; water with some sort of broth flavoring; whatever you want) and bring it to a boil. While waiting, add extra seasoning if needed, then definitely some thyme and a couple bay leaves. After it’s reached boiling, bring it down to a healthy simmer for at least 45 min until the split peas have fallen apart. While the main soup is going, rinse, boil, then simmer about a half cup of barley in a separate pot. When the main soup pot is ready, drain, rinse, then add the barley, pull out the bay leaves, and adjust the seasoning as needed. I picked up a tip from Jen at Last Night’s Dinner: since the soup is very earthy, I’ll add a few splashes of some sort of sweet vinegar (tarragon, rice?) to add a slight acidic bite.
Ah yes, the joy of comfort food.