Cooking with Susie Q (week of January 9, 2018)

With the weather being all over the place, in that we’ve had snow, ice, rain, warmer days, etc, I think we need something warm and comforting. What could be better than a recipe from our childhood? The Ham and Split pea soup is creamy, warm and flavorful. With a salad and a crusty loaf of bread, a great meal. The Tuscan soup is a friends favorite.  Whenever we eat at a popular chain Italian restaurant, she orders this. I thought we could make it at home. Again, with a good bread, salad, I think this hits all the marks. Have a great meal!

Ham and Split Pea Soup

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 onion, diced

2 ribs celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 pound ham, diced

1 bay leaf

1 pound dried split peas

1 quart chicken stock

2 1/2 cups water

salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions: Place the butter in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Stir in onion, celery, and sliced garlic. Cook slowly until the onions are translucent but not brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Mix in ham, bay leaf, and split peas. Pour in chicken stock and water. Stir to combine, and simmer slowly until the peas are tender and the soup is thick, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Season with salt and black pepper to serve.

Tuscan Soup

1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage

1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 large onion, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

5 (13.75 ounce) cans chicken broth

6 potatoes, thinly sliced

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed

Directions: Cook the Italian sausage and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crumbly, browned, and no longer pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook the bacon in the same Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of drippings with the bacon in the bottom of the Dutch oven. Stir in the onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Pour the chicken broth into the Dutch oven with the bacon and onion mixture; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the heavy cream and the cooked sausage; heat through. Mix the spinach into the soup just before serving.

I really enjoy this time with you each week and would love to hear from you. Do you have any requests? Is there a recipe you have been looking for or remember from your younger years? Can I help you find it? Do you have any recipes that are special to you that you could share with us? Please contact me at or c/o Pioneer Times, P.O. Box 456, Houlton, Maine 04730.

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