Last Sunday, I woke up with a lentil in my bed. I had made garlicky lentils the night before and a dry one must have hitched a ride in my shirt or something and turned up in bed the next morning. It reminded me of the Princess and the Pea, which made me think of pea soup and how no one cooks split peas anymore. Granted peas are not the hippest, most romantic of foods, but you have to admit there’s nothing like a bowl of good pea soup—creamy and thick with slivers of Parmesan crisps on top. (The specialty of the The Crepery, a restaurant in Cincinnati, that closed years ago.)
On a chilly October day, with ham hocks in the freezer, pea soup was perfect. I decided on a recipe from Ken Haedrich’s Soup Makes the Meal, cookbook published in 2001. His recipe uses barbecue sauce in lieu of a ham bone, which I found intriguing. But a hambone was one of the primary reasons to make split pea soup in my opinion. So I used both. The barbecue sauce provided a sweet note—the same thing that sherry or malt vinegar might do. I baked naan bread cut into strips, tossed with olive oil and Parmesan cheese as a stand-in for the crepe crisps. It was perfect—fit for a princess.
—By Jill Melton, Editor