Sunday, January 3, 2010


I don't often get bored. What with beloved wife, two dogs, house and grounds to maintain, two interesting children, two darling grandchildren, several ethics committees on which I serve, and friends to visit (in person and on line), life is quite full.

However, much of that came to a screeching halt two weeks ago, when I had eye surgery.

Some things are much better. I can see to do thing around the house, for example. But reading actually takes a magnifying glass in hand. Sherlock Holmes I am not. VERY frustrating!

So instead of reading, I thought I would try to do something totally different. Make pea soup.

I've never tried that before. But there's a first time for anything — in my case, anything appropriate. So why not try making soup?

I found what looked like a good recipe. I could read it with a magnifying glass. Seemed healthy and hearty.

So I scurried about, gathering up the necessary ingredients. And got to it.

Put the peas in a big pot (two cups peas, six cups water), boil, then simmer for an hour and a half. No problem.

But as I looked at them more carefully, they looked a bit odd. So picked up the package and the magnifying glass to check the label.


Right. Not exactly what we were expecting.

So I left the lentils to simmer and took Sadie for a walk. Trying to clear my head. Think . . . think . . .think, like old Pooh Bear.

Sudenly I remember seeing another pea soup recipe which said one could substitute lentils for peas and get a satisfactory soup.

YES! Problem is now in hand.

After cooking the lentils for about half the required time, they were quite soft but not mushy. I suppose for real lentil or pea soup one wants them mushy. But I have no experience with "mushy peas." And, frankly, as one who prefers his pasta «al dente», this looked just fine. And the lentils were the preferred consistency.

While the lentils were simmering, I got the rest of the ingredients ready. Chicken (instead of pork hock), carrot and celery thinly sliced, garlic, lemon juice (lemon juice?), spices. Yet in the very middle, "1 onion, finely chopped."

Onions are a challenge for me at the best of times. But right after eye surgery? "Cruel and unusual puishment," I say. (Right after I got all the additional ingredients into the pot, and got it boiling again, I reached for the various eye drops I take to prevent problems with my eye, and dripped them in, one at a time!)

In the end, I ejected the bay leaf (which was, magically, sitting right on top) and tried a small bowl. There was a certain je ne sais quois about it. It was all right, but needed something. I ground some fresh pepper and added it. Didn't quite do the trick. Hmmmm . . . And a few rice crackers didn't help much either. Altogether a bit too bland. But better bland than too spicy!

Still and all, I've got several packages of soup in the freezer, to pull out for lunch on a cold day. We're supposed to be geting some of those in a bit. This is winter in Canada, you realize.

And my eye is OK, right now. I hope it will be in the morning.


Natalie said...

So did the onion go in or not? I use lentils in it often, so it sounded nice to me.x

Annie said...

Your soup sounds wonderful. My theory with soup is pretty much anything goes in. I make it often through the winter but never use a recipe. It all depends on what is left over from the last meal. I blitz it all down and it's usually loads better than any bought soup....even if I cant always put a lable on it :-)
Really pleased your eye sounds to be going on well. Keep up the good work.
A x

Lee said...

Well done. I could say 'a souper effort' but, of course, I wont.

Withy Brook said...

Do you have Lea and Perrins Worcester Sauce in Canada? A dash of that might give it that little je ne sais quois.

D..J. Kirkby said...

Glad your eye is getting better. Your soup sounds nice, did you set out to make split pea soup? Mom used to make that all the time, I love it and want to make some after reading your post.

Rob-bear said...

Thanks for taking thee time to share your thoughts, friends.

® Natsy: 1. The onion made it into the soup. 2. My eye hurts this morning. I could say there is no justice, but in this case, I'm afraid there is! (Are you at 16 days?)

® Wipso: Mine was a bit like that -- it didn't call for chicken, but I threw some in.

® Lee: Your "souper" comment was spot on. But its for lunch not supper.

® Withy: I never thought of Worcester Sauce. I have some in the fridge. Thanks for the tip. I can add some when I re-heat the soup.

® DJ: Pleasure to have you visit my "souper" post (to borrow a thought from Lee). Please take a look around. Yes, I did set out to make green split pea soup. Lots of "misadventures" in my life. Some days I feel like an accident looking for a place to happen.

French Fancy... said...

Confession time - sometimes when I am not in the mood to peel onions I use some French onion bits that come in a jar. They taste almost as good as the real thing and nobody has ever queried them.

I'd invest in some, Rob.

Gutsy Living said...

I see you are back to posting. I thought you were taking a longer break. Good to hear your eye is better now. It sounded like your soup was bland because you stuck some eye drops into it. Am I right?
I made a bean soup in a crock pot and added some cumin and cayenne to give it more flavor. it tasted much better that way.

Rob-bear said...

® FF: Cheating on your recipe? Do your guests ever notice? Thanks for the tip!

® Sonia: Bear almost always finds a way. Good news: I'm still posting. Bad news: I can't see what I'm saying. Unless I hold a magnifying glass in front of the computer screen. No drops in the soup, just in my eyes. And you'd be surprised at now much better the soup tastes after it had a chance to sit overnight. Are there such things as soup fairies?
Other news: Operation in my other eye could come as soon as next week. Then I'll be completely useless on the computer. Hmmmmm . . . won't go there.

cheshire wife said...

All the best cooks improvise.

Anonymous said...

Is there a reason you avoided the ham hocks? That's where the flavor is!

Rob-bear said...

® CW: Thanks for the tip. Sorry to be late in replying.

® Dana: Didn't have any around at the time. But that's a swine idea. For next time. (Perhaps I could get some at the local "hock shop," but I'd have no idea of how fresh the hocks might be.)