Old Fashioned Split Pea Soup

Split green and yellow peas simmered in vegetable stock with smoked pork neck bones, garden carrots, onions, celery and green beans, fresh bay leaves, thyme, sea salt and black pepper.  Served with homemade croûtons and a dollop of crème fraîche..

For the Crème Fraîche

6 oz fresh heavy cream
2 oz cultured buttermilk

Gently heat heavy cream to 105 degrees (use a thermometer), then remove from heat and stir in buttermilk.  Transfer to a glass jar, cover with a napkin and allow to stand at room temperature until thick, about 24-36 hours.  Transfer to the refrigerator and age for 24 hours.  Use within 7-10 days.

For the Vegetable Stock (recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine)

1/2 lb portabella mushrooms, caps and stems cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb shallots, left unpeeled, quartered
1 lb carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs (including stems)
5 fresh thyme sprigs
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves (not California)
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 qt water

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Toss together mushrooms, shallots, carrots, bell peppers, parsley and thyme sprigs, garlic, and oil in a large flameproof roasting pan. Roast in middle of oven, turning occasionally, until vegetables are golden, 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer vegetables with slotted spoon to a tall narrow 6-quart stockpot. Set roasting pan across 2 burners, then add wine and deglaze pan by boiling over moderate heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes. Transfer to stockpot and add bay leaves, tomatoes, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes. Pour through a large fine sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and discarding solids, then season with salt and pepper. Skim off fat.  Use within 1 week or freeze up to 3 months.

For the Soup

1 cup split green peas
1 cup split yellow peas
2 quarts homemade vegetable stock
1/2 pound smoked pork neck bones, meat attached
1-1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
1-1/2 cups celery with leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh green beans, coarsely chopped
1 cup carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons pastured butter
3 fresh bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Bring vegetable stock to a boil, add pork neck bones and bay, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour, skimming occasionally.  Remove pork bones and allow to cool enough to handle. Add peas and thyme to the stock and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pull the meat from the pork bones, dice and add to the pot.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pan set over medium heat. Add carrots and cook until almost soft, about 5 minutes.  Add celery, onions, green beans and garlic, stir and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add to the pot, partially cover and simmer until the peas are tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir lemon juice into soup to brighten, then season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.  Discard bay leaves.  Serve soup piping hot with croûtons and crème fraîche.