7 Days of the Food Network: Day 6, Alton Brown
April 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
J: Okay, y’all should have seen this one coming from a mile away. How could we do a Food Network feature and NOT include Alton Brown? He’s a prominent personality both on that channel and elsewhere in the food world, and for good reason: the guy is batsh*t insane, in the best possible way. He always makes me laugh (sometimes uncomfortably so), and he does know his stuff when it comes to food. So, I went through his recipes and chose this one, curried split pea soup. I first tried split pea soup in middle school, I think, and it was my favorite kind of soup for years (until I discovered broccoli and cheese soups like this one!). I had never made it from scratch, and I thought that adding some curry powder would give it an extra little layer of flavor, which it certainly did. I grated some cheese on top as well, just to give it a bit more saltiness and to contrast with the warm mellowness of the soup, and that was pretty excellent. The verdict? An all-around win for Alton on this soup!
Alton Brown’s Curried Split Pea Soup
(recipe found here)
2 tbsp unsalted butter (I used olive oil — approximately 1:1 substitution, maybe use a little less oil than you would use butter)
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 large or 3 “normal”-sized cloves of garlic, minced
12oz green or yellow split peas, rinsed (my bag of split peas was 16oz so I just threw the whole thing in there. Worked fine for me)
5 c vegetable stock (or chicken, if you prefer)
1 tbsp curry powder
Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)
In a large pot, heat up the butter or oil over medium-low heat. Add your onions and a pinch or two of salt and sweat for a few minutes. Confession: I did not know what sweating was before I made this soup. I had heard of it as a technique, sure, but I didn’t know exactly what it entailed, so I looked it up, and it entails this:
Basically, put your onions in your pot, and then tightly cover the pot with the lid for however long is necessary — in this case, about 2-3 minutes will do. You can stir the onions once or twice but be sure to cover the pot again afterward. This technique cooks the onions but keeps them from browning, giving them a softer and slightly sweeter taste and texture than they would otherwise have, and the salt makes them release moisture faster, helping along the process. See, you can’t even make an Alton Brown recipe without learning something neat about food!
So, your onions have sweated for a couple of minutes. Add the minced garlic, re-cover the pot, and let all that sweat for another 1 or 2 minutes, again stirring once or twice to make sure nothing is browning.
Add the remaining ingredients — split peas, stock, and curry powder — and give a quick stir to combine.
Turn up the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat again, to low/medium-low, cover the soup, and let it simmer for 45 minutes or so. You’ll want the peas to be pretty soft by the time it’s “done” cooking — if you push them up against the side of the pot with your spoon, they should break apart quite easily.
Now turn off the heat, and using a hand blender if you’ve got one, or a regular stand blender if you haven’t, blend up the soup until it gets to your preferred consistency. I did it in batches in my stand blender, so not all of the soup got blended, but it was a good consistency for me.
If necessary (though it probably won’t be), re-heat the soup. Serve, topped with Parmesan cheese if you like, and enjoy!