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COMFORT FOOD : Forget frivolous fare. Ignore the exotic. In times of trouble we turn to the familar and seek the solace of home. : Foods that reassure: Big breakfasts. Warm doughnuts. A simple steak. Beef stew. And ambrosia. : A Few of Our Favorite Things : . . . Soup and Sausage

January 24, 1991|JOAN DRAKE

My idea of cold-weather comfort food is a bowl of thick split pea soup accompanied by a hunk of warm kielbasa tucked between slices of fresh bread. From September to May, my freezer is seldom without a container or two of this old favorite to thaw at a moment's notice.

Although the following recipe has been around my family for years, originally it probably came off some package of split peas. It calls for few ingredients, but uses long, slow cooking to bring out their best flavor.

I make a potful on weekends when I'm going to be around home for a few hours doing other things, and freeze whatever I can refrain from gobbling down immediately. It's an ideal recipe for utilizing a leftover ham bone, but when none is available, meaty ham hocks will do the trick.

SPLIT PEA SOUP

WITH KIELBASA

1 ham bone or 3 ham hocks

2 quarts water

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups split peas

1 (1-pound) package kielbasa

Place ham bone and water in stockpot. Add celery, bay leaf, onion, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to boil, then add peas. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 3 to 4 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Strain mixture through colander. Remove meat from bone and add to strained soup. Cut kielbasa into chunks or slices, add to soup and heat through. Makes 2 quarts soup plus kielbasa.

Note: Kielbasa may be removed and used for sandwiches to accompany soup.

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