Whatcha Do All Night? Split Pea Soup

What to Eat Wednesday is a new Wait . . . Dad? Recipe Series . . . cause . . . you know . . . why not? There will be no rhyme or reason other than whatever tasted exceptionally good the previous week, but you may notice I'm a huge fan of quick easy cheap meals that are high in protein, minerals, and fiber, and relatively low on carbs. I say that with the full knowledge that I will be sharing a cast iron lasagna recipe very soon which meets none of the previously mentioned criteria. Since it's new, please send along feedback about either the format or the recipes themselves or share with me your meals that you want me to try. Thanks . . . 

Split Pea Super Soup
1 Cup Dried Split Peas
1 Chicken Breast
2 Cups Kale (Shredded finely, no stems)
4 Cups Water

Olive oil
Hot Stuff.

Okay, so maybe Split Pea Soup isn't everyone's idea of comfort meal. In fact, it has all the trappings of room temperature baby food out of those little glass jars. I remember opening those jars and smelling that faint musty smell and thinking "My god, how can this child eat this?" But . . . luckily . . . it was one of his faves before he learned about M&Ms and for a while was the only thing he'd eat. That was nearly a decade ago.

So flashing a bit forward, I was tasked to pick up some lentils in the dried food section of my grocery store and since I clearly think of myself as the kind of person who can easily identify a barrel of lentils without looking at the labels, I came home with a two pound bag of split peas.

They were so vibrantly green, I just assumed they were the freshest lentils available.

And they were so big too.

Big, vibrant green, fresh lentils.

And then I started boiling them, and instead of swelling up like lentils do, these got soft and mushy and fell apart.

I realized I had discovered a new food.

Or these weren't lentils at all. These were split peas.

I don't know how to cook split peas.

But not wanting to back down, especially with an In&Out Burger so close if everything fails, I made it all up as I went along, and it turned out damn good. Like the kind of good that you consider making this a "once a year" kinda meal. But it's so simple, so cheap, and I have a two pound bag of the stuff, so . . . anyway: Here's how to do it.

The Meat: Chicken is pretty straightforward. I like to sear each side in a pan and then place the chicken in an oven safe thingumabob @ 385 for 45 minutes. It's best to overcook chicken, cause . . . you know . . . death. The potential for dryness is why I add it to the soup rather than making it a side dish. The important thing about chicken is that anything that touches anything that touches anything that touched the chicken, in it's raw form, is likely to kill you. And it's not a peaceful death either. Make sure you clean and sanitize everything in a hundred yard area. Have a tank of gasoline and a blowtorch ready as well. Remove from oven, chop into pieces.

The Split Peas: Add water to a pot, bring to a boil, add peas, turn heat to simmer. Wait until mushy. (About 27 minutes and 32 seconds.)

The Leafy Greens: I used to be a spinach man. Squinty Eyed Popeye. But the problem with spinach is that it too can kill you, it wilts to nothing when heated, and I can never seem to get through an entire bag without it getting slimy. Kale does none of that. It's my new bestie. Simply take a stalk, rip the leafy stuff from the fibrous spine, and shred the leafy stuff finely. Toss the stalk. Good to go.

(Warning: Trader Joe's has a bag of pre-shredded kale which sounds like a great idea, but they didn't remove the stalk from the goos stuff, and it has a weird smell. Don't buy it.)

Assembly: Once the chicken is cooked and shredded, mix it into the mushy pea soup (the soup should be a little watery, if not add some) Once the chicken is mixed in, then add the kale on top and cover the pot with a lid so that the steam can soften the leaves. Wait 6 minutes and 13 seconds, uncover, stir and serve.

Additions/Substitutions: You can probably use any meat you like. Pork is a nice choice, as are bacon bits. Especially bacon bits. Fish is probably a bad choice. But "Via Con Dios" Anyway . . . you can use spinach instead of kale, but you'll have to use a lot and it will get super wilty/slimy and split peas have enough gross textures as it is. Add salt wherever you like. You can add it to the water for the peas, you can add it to the chicken before you cook it, you can even add it to the whole pot once it's assembled. I suggest letting people add whatever salt they want. Garlic salt is ridiculously fantastic on this dish.

Also: Hot sauce, pepper flakes, what ever your spicy tolerance is. Again, leave it to the end user to apply such things.

Try not to have any left overs. (I know that sounds counter intuitive) but for some reason, cold split pea soup looks kinda gross and it has to be reheated on the stove (not the microwave) in order to heat evenly. Gross looking and complicated to cook does not make for a convenient lunch.

Serves 4ish (with bread)
Cost per serving: $2.00 (without bread)
Time: Is of the essence.
Via Con Dios means Go With God.

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