As a cold-weather complement for Châteauneuf-du-Pape or other wines from the southern Rhône, this thick, rib-sticking soup does the trick. The soup’s whisper of meaty smoke and brambly fragrance of thyme clinch its ties to the land of the wine. The recipe, from Freemans Restaurant on the Lower East Side of New York, is easy. And copious. But leftovers freeze well.
Time: About 2 hours
1 pound slab bacon, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and sliced thin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed and picked over
4 bay leaves
3 quarts chicken stock
1/2 bunch fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems
1. Cut the bacon into 1/4-inch dice. Place it in a heavy 6-quart pot over medium-low heat. Cook until the fat is rendered and translucent. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the split peas, stir to coat with the fat, and add the bay leaves and stock. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the soup simmers. Skim the foam that rises to the surface, continuing to do so for about 10 minutes, until no more foam appears. Add the thyme leaves. Simmer, uncovered, until the split peas are soft and starting to fall apart, 1 hour or longer.
3. Remove the soup from the heat. Discard the bay leaves. Add seasonings to taste. Puree the soup in a food processor in several batches—short of being perfectly smooth. You want to be able to spoon up some texture. Reheat the soup, skimming off any foam. Stir from the bottom to mix well, then ladle into bowls and serve.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Cook’s Notes : Look for split peas that have a use-by date on the package and are relatively fresh; they will cook faster and better. This recipe can also be made with lentils.
© Wine With Food by Eric Asimov and Florence Fabricant, Rizzoli New York, 2014.