At night, we bundle up and go down to the cellar. We decided to get hardcore about seed-starting this year and bought grow-lights. In the past, I’ve started seeds on windowsills, which works, sure, but the seedlings end up a bit leggy, and real estate is limited. Now, improbably, our windowless, 52-degree cellar is the home of seed-starting operations, spread across a big table with lights that shine 16 hours a day. We put on music, drink steaming tea, and get lost in the rhythm of poking holes, dropping in seeds, covering them up, watering them. All at 9 or 10 PM. It’s a little counterintuitive, and lends a certain drama to the work, like we’re growing something illicit in our basement.
It’s that silly time of year where we’re all pretty done with winter, but there’s still an interminable stretch until it’s honest-to-goodness spring. Even winter itself seems wan and ready to be put to bed, allowing some warming sun to poke through. On one or two afternoons, we’ve been able to move the garden prep outside for a few hours. But the nights still get very, very cold. The dirt still has a hard, frozen crust on its surface. I am still eating pantry-staple legumes. It is definitely not yet spring. When spring does roll around, it will be my third here in this space. As of last month, that little archive page over there started showing three calendar years of posts. Looking back, some things have evolved (oh, that awful feeling of reading your own diary too soon after you’ve written the entry, and wanting to start all over again from scratch), and some things are pretty constant. Around March, for instance, I start pining away over spring and gardens and dirt. I lament the absence of produce, and then I cook something from dry goods or cool storage vegetables. Repeat. Yawn.My point is, I guess, that I’ve been thinking a lot about the type of content I produce here. When I started The Yellow House, I needed something, any type of outlet at all. I didn’t really know what the site would turn into (and believe it or not, it was not supposed to be focused on food alone). Posts here are pretty organic. I write what I want, when I want. But as much as I love giving everyone the line that “I write here for myself” (which is true), increasingly, there are people here reading along with me. And you know what you like about this blog. So I would love to hear from you, to hear which rambly categories you prefer most. I see entries on this blog as falling into a couple buckets: recipes, longer-form essays, thoughts on particular ingredients, and some more personal posts (that possibly don’t belong here, but I store them here anyway). The unifying theme is that I don’t like writing or posting something here for the sake of posting. But other than that…it’s a bit of a grab bag. I wonder if there should be more focus, or if this MO is fine, for now. This is all getting a bit navel-gaze-y, and I don’t want to take myself too seriously, so, if you have some thoughts, let me know.
Otherwise, onto the soup. I have a bit of a color addiction in food, so anytime I can pull something as pedestrian as a legume from my pantry and turn it into something this sunny, I am thrilled. Split peas have an earthiness to them that carries the dish, and a drizzle of brown butter on top is, while negotiable, an improvement on something already good. I’m growing these pea shoots again, and they’re the perfect bright contrast to the creamy soup. This one’s a pretty blank canvas, as far as toppings go, though–a swirl of greek yogurt and some peppery hot sauce is nice here, and I bet some scallions or chives would be wonderful, too.
Yellow split pea soup with brown butter drizzle
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 8-10 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (if your broth is salty, do not add the entire amount, add to taste)
- 3 cups yellow split peas
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- For brown butter topping:
- 4 ounces butter
- In a large, deep pot, heat the tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until it foams. Add the onion and saute, stirring, for about five minutes, until the onion begins to soften and turn gold. Add the garlic and potatoes and toss them with the onions, cooking for another minute or so. Add the white wine vinegar to the pot and deglaze, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pot, and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated off.
- Add 8 cups of the vegetable broth/water, salt, and split peas, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40-50 minutes, until split peas are very tender. Keep an eye on the level of liquid, and add more if necessary. Remove from heat and allow to cool briefly.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot, or, alternatively, puree it carefully in batches in your blender.
- Bring the soup to a simmer again, thinning with more broth/water (or cream, if you’d like) to desired thickness.
- In a small saucepan, heat the 4 ounces butter. The butter will melt, foam up briefly, and then the dairy solids that precipitate will begin to toast, giving off a warm, nutty, delicious scent. The whole process can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the butter, as those same dairy solids can scorch.
- Serve the soup warm with a drizzle of the brown butter. Garnish as desired.