Congratulations to Jon, the winner of my Almost Meatless giveaway. I used this site to generate a random number, and Jon's comment corresponded with the number that came up. (I controlled for people who commented twice and excluded my husband and myself.)
That post drew an unprecedented response and taught me three valuable lessons:
1) people like to win free stuff;
2) people who read my blog don't eat much meat, or they eat tons of meat, but lied blatantly and shamelessly, thinking it would up their chances of winning the book (it didn't); and
3) people like to win free stuff.
The fact that so many of you didn't win the cookbook makes me cry a little, so I offer you, below, a recipe for slow cooker yellow split pea soup with ham. In the spirit of the book, which you didn't win (unless you're Jon), the recipe uses some meat, but just a wee bit. Perhaps you'll now hate me slightly less.
Though I'm loathe to admit it, my slow cooker has recently beguiled me with its charms, and I'm using it far more this year than I have in years past. Problem is, I always feel like I'm cheating on my other appliances when I pull it out. I kind of turn my back to the stove when I plug it in, hoping to obscure what I'm doing. Like, oh, I'm just checking the slow cooker to see if it's okay, or I'm dusting it. But then the oven sees what's going on, and I get caught in this very awkward lie. The only way to really hide my disloyalty would be to drag the slow cooker into the laundry room, an act that might soothe my guilt but would give my soup the unmistakable flavor of Bounce.
Still, though, if you've recently bit off more than you can chew work wise, and if you have eight irons in the fire rather than the normal two, you might find that a little dalliance with a time-saving appliance is what it's going to take to get food in your belly. If the stove and the oven get pissed off, well, that's a small price to pay for a hot meal at the end of a very long day.
Recipe for Slow Cooker Yellow Split Pea Soup with Ham
I can't overstate how easy this recipe is, or how thick, comforting, and filling. You throw everything in the slow cooker (mine is a 5-quart capacity model), and presto change-o, you have soup. As with all soups, it keeps beautifully.
16 ounces yellow split peas, rinsed under cool running water
4 ounces diced ham
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Three 14-1/2 ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth, or 5-1/2 cups homemade stock
Place ingredients in slow cooker exactly as written. Cover, set to high or low, and cook until the peas fall apart and the soup is smooth and very thick. (Soup will take about 5 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low, or you can start it on high and turn it to low halfway through, which is what I did. Just don't leave it on high for more than 5 hours or the bottom will dry out.)
Discard the thyme sprigs. If desired, thin with a bit of water before serving.
Leftovers should be cooled and refrigerated. Soup will thicken into a mass in the fridge, so you'll need to thin it with additional water before reheating.