Saturday, January 19, 2013

Skip the Ham Hock, Split Pea

In my hometown–New Orleans–meat is a key ingredient in some of the tastiest dishes. So when I went 'pescatarian' at age thirteen, only to quit at twenty-one, I had to work hard to replace the flavor meat so readily provides.

The following split pea soup recipe uses nutritional yeast, also known as brewer's yeast.  It's high in protein, low and calories, and is loaded with B-complex vitamins. I usually find the yellow powder or flakes in the bulk bin at the health food store. The yeast supplement offers more of a cheesy or nutty flavor than a ham-infused one, but I find it does the trick. Here's the deal on gluten-free: if the yeast you use is a by-product of beer, it contains gluten. However, yeast made from sugar passes muster. Check with your local health food store.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
-makes 6 cups-

1 1/2 cups dried split peas
4 cups water
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup carrots
1 tsp. each: garlic powder, cumin, salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp. olive oil

*Wash peas thoroughly in cold water, discarding any foreign matter or discolored peas.
*Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, simmer for one hour or until peas and vegetables are soft. 
*Garnish with cilantro and sour cream if you'd like. I usually sprinkle on a little parmesan cheese and I always add a dash of Tonys Chachere's (pronounced "Tony Sacheries") Original Creole Seasoning. Available at supermarkets, and online along with 'Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning.' Enjoy in peace. 

Recipe inspired by The Going Vegetarian Cookbook by David A. Gabbe (1997).

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