One of the things we have found about living overseas is that traditions are very important to keeping a sense of who we are, especially for the kids. No matter where we live I will find a pumpkin (or something pumpkin like) to carve for Halloween and later bake into pies for Thanksgiving. I will put up a tree for Christmas, fake or real depending on where we live and the availability fresh trees. We invent things that we do as a family that cement our togetherness, our belonging to each other. Dessert night on Wednesday, movie night on Friday these are part of our weekly family traditions, our family cement. This fall I am adding one more: soup night. At least for the winter. Once the weather warms again it may become taco night or maybe pizza night.
Today for dinner we had split pea soup with brotchen. It was yummy. Brotchen are small crusty rolls you can buy all over the place here, similar to bolillo rolls back home. They were perfect with hearty soup. Three out of four kids liked the soup, Grayson just like the bread. Even Cody liked it, which was a surprise since he hated it in the past. As I was cooking I realized that I really enjoy soup when it's cold outside. It is just such a warm, cozy kind of food. Why not add a soup night? Quick discussion with David and it's set we will have a soup night each week this fall and winter.
I realized one other thing. I really like soup and have often ordered it when we eat out, but I really only know how to make two kinds of soups: bean with ham (split pea is a variation on this since it is basically the same soup except with split peas instead of beans) and chicken vegetable soup. There are so many more kinds of soups out there I would love to learn to make. Indonesian Soto Ayam, spicy Thai coconut soup, caldo de rez, minestrone, the list goes on and on. As I try new recipes I will post each week and let you know what the kids think of the recipes.
The recipe I used (and mostly followed) tonight came from epicurious.com. If you don't know epicurious and like to cook you must go there now, go ahead this blog will be here when you get back. I have known about this site for a long time and used it frequently even back in the states, but after ALL of my cookbooks ended up in storage (please, please, please, let them be in storage) instead of at post it became a lifesaver. My favorite thing about it the user reviews. Immediately I can see what other people thought of the recipe and what changes they made.
I chose a very simple recipe tonight. To me split peas are a rustic kind of dish and should not be fancied up too much. To view the recipe click here. I followed the recipe, well mostly. I had some left over ham from a few days ago so I used the ham bone in place of smoked pork hocks. I also had saved the juice from the pan when I cooked the ham and used that and chicken stock instead of water. The only other change I made was to not puree the soup. I like split pea soup when it it is creamy with peas just falling apart but not perfectly smooth. There is enough left over for my lunch tomorrow. Life is good!