Have you ever walked into a room and smelled an aroma of something cooking that took you back to your childhood? One that takes you back to your grandmother’s house where she is cooking your favorite treat, apple pie. You are sitting at the kitchen table waiting quite impatiently as she takes the steaming hot apple pie out of the oven and sets it on the cooling rack as it is still bubbling with sweet apples. The house is filled with the scents of cinnamon and apples. As she turns to you, takes off her oven mitts, adjusts her apron that is covered in flour, she glares at you and says, “You can have a piece when it is cooled.” You wait what seems like an eternity, sitting at the table with your head rested on your hands and feet swinging. Then she finally cuts that first piece and places it in front of you. Now that you have grown up, every time you smell apple pie you think of those memories. Or it could be any other delicious food that brings back a particular time in your life.
Well, my memory of a particular dish was not so pleasant. I am French Canadian so in my house I got to smell the aroma of pea soup—that repulsive, green smelly soup. My father and my meme’ loved to make it. However, I think they were the only ones who actually liked it. My mother hated it when he made it. She would get so angry saying, “Oh no you are not making that nasty pea soup again, it stinks up my house like farts.” I despised peas and would not go anywhere near them, no matter how they were cooked. I looked at them like they were green mushy baby food. Traditional pea soup is made with a ham bone and some ham. My father would always take that prized part of the ham and the scraps after Easter dinner and make his legendary pea soup. Years later as I got older I still would not go near peas. Then when I became a vegan about 5 year ago, something happened and my taste for food changed. I now enjoy cooking and eating dishes that I would have never touched. I now love pea soup. It is one of my favorite things to make in the winter time. I don’t cook it with traditional ham or “fake” meats, but only use veggies and homemade broth. I want to share with you my recipe of vegan pea soup. I usually make it on the crock pot because I can throw all the ingredients in together and let it do its magic. Oh, and each time I make it I will add something different or use different spices. Sometimes I will use potatoes, rice or barley. This is generally how I make it:
Cheryl’s Pea Soup
-6 or 7 cups of veggie broth (you can buy it or make it yourself—recipe below)
-2 cups of dried green split peas
-1 ½ cups of frozen peas
-1 lg or 2 small carrots sliced
-1 parsnip sliced
-½ turnip cubed ( you can use russet potatoes or rice)
-1 ½ cups of sliced mushrooms
-1 med onion
-2 or 3 cloves of garlic (depending how much you like)
-¼ cup nutritional yeast
-2 bay leaves
-Fresh chopped parsley
-Spices such as, thyme, rosemary, mustard powder, dash of cayenne
-Salt and pepper
Sautée the onion and garlic just until they soften up and release all their natural flavors. Then put them in the crock pot along with all of the other ingredients except for the frozen peas, give it a stir and place the lid on it. Turn it on high and let it cook for a good 4 hours. Then lift the lid to release all those flavorful aromas in the house and give it another stir. The peas should be broken down by now and have the texture of mush, but not too thick yet. Add the frozen peas and turn it on low for another 2 hours or so. If it comes out too thick, you can simply add a bit of water or more veggie broth to it each time you heat up a bowl. (It usually comes out thick when I make it.) You can use all kinds of garnishes for it such as sautéed onions and mushrooms placed on top, chopped herbs or chopped red pepper with cubed cooked sweet potato. It goes along great with some garlic bread or toasted pitas. Be creative with your soup.
Recipe For Veggie Broth:
Save all of your veggie scraps during the week—ends, stems, peels, and extras. They will keep in the frig for up to a week or so. I make a broth once a week with scraps that I save. This is what I made my last broth with. There are onion ends and peels, carrot ends, broccoli stems, beet ends, kale and spinach stems, turnip ends, pepper seeds and ends and herb stems. Once you have a good bowl full, put them into a pot and put enough water in the pan to cover them. Boil them for a few minutes, then turn the heat down to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Once it is cool you can strain your veggie scraps into a bowl, saving the broth. If you don’t need it right away it will stay good in the fridge for up to a week or you can freeze it and it will be good for a couple of months. This is so much better than store bought broth—it has so much flavor without the added salt.
Every time I make this soup, I still to this day smile and giggle remembering how much I used to hate it and how my mother would always get angry at my father for stinking up the house. I hope you enjoy this great winter soup as much as I do now.
About Author Cheryl Coelho: New Years Eve 2008 and a resolution changed my life forever. I wanted to become healthier so I trained for a 5k. I was instantly hooked. Then, I decided to go back to school and earn my Bachelor’s in Health & Wellness and my personal trainer certificate. After watching the movie Food Inc., I decided to become vegetarian, which then led to reading, researching and watching everything I could to learn about the food industry. About a year after that I became vegan and earned my certificate in plant based nutrition at Cornell University. I now run marathons, bike, lift weight, yoga and have been featured in Vegan Health & Fitness magazine. As I continue to grow, it is my passion to educate other on becoming vegan for life.