Monday, February 18, 2013
HOMEMADE HABITANT PEA SOUP (SOUPE AUX POIS), VEGAN-STYLE
|French Canadian Habitant Pea Soup (made with whole dried yellow peas), Vegan-Style, with some rather smeary smoked paprika|
It's unfortunate that it's more and more difficult (at least where I live) to find whole dried yellow peas. I say that because one of my favorite soups is Habitant Pea Soup, the traditional potage that was basic sustenance for the farmers of Quebec for centuries.
My husband is from Quebec City and he was surprised to hear that when I was growing up in San Francisco, my dad used to buy us the large cans of Habitant Pea Soup (which have been around since 1918):
Disclosure: I am NOT recommending that you go out and buy this soup! Unfortunately, this would be vegan except for the addition of lard! But the image of the can holds pleasant memories for me because we loved it. (The company was apparently bought out by Campbell's, BTW.) So, I had to learn to make it myself, and then make it vegan-- and it's even better!
"Habitant" is a French Canadian term for "country dweller" (more or less) and it's easy to see why it was such a staple for French Canadian farmers, being easy and cheap to make with dried yellow peas that could be stored for a long time. Warming, filling and nutritious, the soup had much to offer these hardworking people during the frigid Quebec winters.
You will see many recipes for this soup using split peas, but I think that is partly because of the difficulty of finding the whole ones, or just because split peas are more familiar to many of us. But I like the fact that the whole peas have the skins that float around in the soup (extra fiber) and also the fact that the soup doesn't thicken into a "peas porridge" when cooled. My husband assures me that whole peas are more traditional, and he likes the slightly thinner quality of the the soup when made this way.
In any case, I hope you will be able to find some whole yellow dried peas and try my recipe. I have to make it regularly now, because our dog, Pheobe, really likes a little of it on her vegetarian dog kibbles!Pheobe
WHERE TO BUY: You can order whole dried yellow peas from the farm gate here in the USA, and also order them here. In Canada, check health food stores, supermarket bulk bins and natural foods markets. NOTE: Whole peas should be soaked for about 8 hours before cooking.
Dried whole yellow peas look a bit whitish because of the skin covering the yellow pea, like this:
Dried whole yellow peas from Purcell Mountain Farms
BRYANNA'S VEGAN-STYLE HABITANT PEA SOUP (FRENCH CANADIAN SOUP AUX POIS)
(Adapted from a recipe in my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook")
2 cups dried whole yellow peas
8 cups tasty vegetarian broth
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and diced small
1/2 cup chopped celery (with leaves)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Optional: 1 tablespoon soy bacon bits
or 1/4 cup chopped vegan "ham" or "bacon" or smoked tofu
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
Soak the peas in water to cover generously for about 8 hours, then drain.
Mix the soaked peas in a large heavy pot with the broth, vegetables, herbs and spices, liquid smoke, optional "ham", "bacon" or smoked tofu, and sesame oil. Simmer for 2 hours.
With a hand/immersion blender, blend just enough to puree some of the peas, but not all. Just pulse briefly around the pot. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve hot with crusty bread.
No-Knead Crusty Artisanal Bread from my book "World Vegan Feast".