I added something to the soup, Q said on the phone. I had called him to ask him to give the soup a stir and evaluate its consistency.
Lately, I seem to have developed something of a short fuse, and I could feel it beginning to ignite. I'm working hard on counting to ten, and it's going well: I didn't even get to five before I was able to answer serenely.
What did you add?
Broccoli. Split pea soup is ordinarily not made with broccoli. This one was made with the remains of a smoked pheasant we got for Christmas. That was as exotic as I had planned for my soup to get.
Just stalks. I cut them into four pieces. It'll give it flavor.
Flavor. That was what the smoked pheasant was for. I told him I was looking forward to our supper and he said the same and we hung up.
The train was delayed, so I missed Washington Week in Review entirely -- we spend Friday evening with Gwen Ifill, known in our house as "Q's other girlfriend", whenever we're home. I had prepared the soup in the slow cooker, so that it would be fragrant and delicious when I arrived. Now I imagined chunks of uninvited broccoli floating in it, uninvited and unassimilated, jarring the palate with their cruciferous presence. I could remove most of them with a slotted spoon. Maybe it wouldn't be too bad. I went immediately to the kitchen upon entering the house.
Is "warm" hotter than "low"? Q asked, following me there.
Um, no, I said, "Warm" is -- it's just warm. It's the lowest. It's just to keep things warm. It doesn't actually cook anything." Jeez -- had he turned the soup down? In addition to being cruciferous, would the chunks of broccoli also be hard as rocks? You don't eat split pea soup for crunch, dammit, I fumed to myself. You eat it for smoothness and comfort, for savory warmth. You want crunch? Make yourself a salad.
He hadn't turned it down. I must say, the soup looked lovely, a deep rich green, the pheasant falling from the bones. True, there were chunks of broccoli in it. But Bill Moyers was coming on. I ladled out two bowls, cut a few pieces of bread, grabbed some cheese, and carried it all upstairs. Q was already in his chair, pouring a glass of wine.
Moyers was interviewing someone whose name escapes me now -- I was absorbed in the soup. It was not only gorgeous, it was delicious. Fabulous. The broccoli did add flavor, but nothing obtrusive. Just part of the wonderful blend. I stood corrected: it wasn't my soup any more. It was ours.
Marital Split Pea Soup
Into a slow cooker, place
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, ditto
1 lb. green split peas
1 bay leaf
1 picked-over smoked pheasant. Or a ham bone. Or nothing, if
you're a vegetarian -- it'll still be good.
6 cups boiling water
Cook at low for 5 hours. Stir, and add water if soup seems thin. Add
1 cup broccoli stalks, cut into chunks. Or something else. Surpise
Continue cooking for another 3-4 hours. Serve and swoon. Six servings.