Monday, February 21, 2011

Creamy Split Pea Soup with Tofu

How do you take a picture of split pea soup and make it look appetizing? I don't know, but this soup is actually very appetizing, despite appearances. Super thick and creamy with a heartiness that really fills you up. I saw Chef Ming (a PBS favorite of mine) make a creamy dressing using tofu the other day and I never knew that you could do that. Blending tofu? That is about the only thing I really want to do with tofu frankly so I got some with a mission. Make a blended soup with tofu in it to add creaminess. This really works. Tofu has no discernible flavor on its own, so the peas and ham hock are the only flavors that you detect, which is just what you want. The ham hock basically just gives a smokey effervescence to the soup that is oh so necessary with split pea. It reheats for lunch the next day and it freezes perfectly so you can make a big pot and not need to eat it on repeat every day for a week. Creamy Split Pea Soup with Tofu
1 bag split peas (I used yellow, but green would work too)
1/2 package tofu
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 light beer
2 cups vegetable stock
1 ham hock

You can buy a ham hock in the grocery store and it should be cheap. A ham hock is basically smoked ham bone with some meat, but mostly just lots of smokey flavor and goodness. You could certainly omit the hock and slice up some bacon and crisp it up in the pot with the onions if you prefer.
1. Wash and drain your peas and make sure that there aren't any stray objects in there. I bet it is rare, but they always suggest that you give them a once over, so I always do.
2. Slice up the tofu into cubes. You are going to puree it so it doesn't have to be uniform or pretty.
3. Chop onion and garlic and saute over medium heat in about 1 Tbs. olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stick the ham hock in there too so that it start to release it's flavors into the onions. Saute onions for 4-5 minutes until soft.
4. Add the tofu, peas, beer, and stock. Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Allow them to cook together until the peas are soft. This should take 30-40 minutes.
5. Remove and discard the ham hock. Blend the soup in a blender until smooth and test for seasoning. If it needs more salt and pepper, add those now.
6. Serve with a sprinkle of pepper....and maybe a grilled cheese sandwich!

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