Green Pea Soup

This is not quite the easiest soup I could post, but OH MY GOSH is it good. Split pea soup is my absolute favorite Dutch food- even more than cheese and baked goods. There is something just so brilliant about the blend of peas and pork. Plus its nickname is 'Snert' and what could be better and more appealing than a green blob called Snert?

Dutch split pea soup-- its full Dutch name being Erwtensoep --is a slightly tricky little delicacy to make. It involves boiling split peas with various cuts of pork (namely a big piece of bone-in ham or pork shoulder), taking out the pork, putting in vegetables, possibly pureeing and then putting the meat back in again. Certainly worth it, but I've simplified the process a bit and was very, very happy with the results. Unfortunately, though, I've just ruined Snert out-of-a-can (quite decent as it is) for myself probably for life now.

Anyway, the biggest change I've made is substituting real peas for split peas. I've researched this quite intently and while dried split peas are by far the most popular way to make soup, there's really just a few simple pros and cons to each...and for me real peas seemed easiest.

The biggest advantage to dried split peas is texture. Apparently they don't have skins and are a bit more starchy, and so more easily cook down into the appealing consistency of the soup. However, split peas should be soaked for a few hours (not necessary, but helps) and give off a frothy 'scum' in the soup that needs to be skimmed off early on in the boiling process. I'm also uncertain as to their availability outside of Holland.

Canned/frozen peas are just a bit more speedy and I didn't see any scum that needed skimming. The biggest issue is their shells which don't break off or let the peas break down easily during cooking. There are a couple ways to combat this (which I'll discuss later), but mine tasted just fine lumpy, ugly shells and all.

[Prep: 20min / Cook: 1.5 - 2hrs]


- 15oz can of green peas (400 grams)
- 2 1/2 cups / 500mL water
- 1/4 lb (125 grams) thick-cut bacon
- 1 pork chop [optional]
- 1/4 of a celeriac (celery root)
- 1 leek
- 1/2 white onion
- 2-3 carrots
- 2 small/medium white or yellow potatoes
- smoked country sausage (kielbasa, rookworst, etc)

  1. Briefly strain the peas and bring them to a boil in the water.
  2. Meanwhile, chop up the bacon and pork chop and throw it in with the peas.
  3. Chop up about 1/4 of a celery root. It'll be about a cup's worth once chopped. Slice the leek all the way down to the white base and slice half an onion. Add all to the soup.
  4. Let the soup cook for about an hour, stirring fairly frequently (about every 10 min). Crush the peas a bit with the spoon if you'd like.
  5. Slice the carrots, cube the potatoes and slice as much smoked sausage as you'd please. Add all to the pot and cook for about 30min - 1hr more, stirring every 10 min until the soup reaches your desired thickness/consistency.
  6. Ready to eat!
[Serves 2 for dinner or 2 twice as a side]
  • All the ingredients-- including dried split peas if I had been interested --are quite easy for me to find this time of year in Holland but may or may not be difficult elsewhere. If you can't find a celery root, you can use celery shoots, the flavor just won't be as strong. Make an effort to look for the root, though. Not only is it awesomely big, but it smells lovely.
  • Traditional split pea soup gets its great flavor from ham/pork with the bone in. Using bacon instead really helps with the flavor, but its worth trying with a bone. Since it's a winter soup, keep an eye out for the big family ham around the Holidays and instead of letting anyone throw the bone away, package it up and freeze it. Later you can throw it in this soup and just discard the bone when you're read to eat!
  • As mentioned, the biggest issue with using real peas and not dried split peas is that they don't break down as well in the soup. It tastes just fine but maybe doesn't look as appealing (b/c green goo looks appealing to begin with...). If you really want your real pea soup smoother, you can try one of these methods

    • Puree the peas in a blender/food processor either before you start, or after that first hour of cooking, before you add in the veggies & sausage (the meats, celeriac and leek will have cooked down quite a bit). 
    • OR you could pan-fry the peas and bacon first. Peas really squish down when you pan-fry them and it could actually cut down on your cooking time as well. Because the meat & pea flavors will have already melded, you can cut straight to the veggie & sausage hour after pan-frying.
  • They say this soup tastes better after sitting overnight in the fridge. Apparently it thickens and the flavors meld more. I can't know for sure-- my entire batch seemed to miraculously disappear last night --but I'd believe the Dutch!


OntheFly Hot and Sour Soup

When you see one of my recipes specifically labelled with "OntheFly" then you know that it is a true Megan Danna original on-the-fly creation. In this instance, I do this not to pat myself on the back for inventiveness in the kitchen but rather to distinguish that though this recipe mimics, it does not compare to the wonderfulness that is a true Schezwan hot and sour soup.

Real hot and sour soup is basically vegetarian (if you take egg) with tofu, bamboo shoots and bean sprouts or can be seafood-based with shrimp/prawns. It also uses cornstarch to thicken the broth, which- after a year of experimenting with it -I've decided is just too much trouble to even keep in my kitchen. If you've never had the pleasure of real hot and sour soup, take this recipe as a homemade introduction, but definitely keep an eye out for it next time you have Chinese!

What was so fun about this recipe was that on an otherwise distressful night where I had somehow managed to forget to plan dinner and found myself with just two pork chops and a dare by my boyfriend to turn them into soup, I was struck by inspiration and was somehow able to throw this together entirely with staple ingredients in my kitchen. Which makes this awesome spicy soup entirely within anyone's grasp!

[Prep: 10min / Cook: 30min]


- 2 pork chops
- 2 1/2 cups (500mL) chicken broth / water with stock cube
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs white vinegar
- a hefty dose of chili powder (abt 1 Tbs)
- black pepper (abt 1 tsp)
- 1 tsp Sambal chili paste OR chili flakes (the pizza topping) 
- 2-3 medium carrots
- 2-3 white mushrooms
- 1/2 an onion
- 2 eggs
- a tiny chunk of ginger (abt 1/2 inch of the root)
- 2 servings cooked rice
- a dash of coriander

  1. Bring the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, pepper and chili to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the pork chops into thin slices and add to the broth.
  3. Cut the carrots and mushrooms into long, thin-ish slices (julienne if you will) and chop the onions and ginger as much as possible.
  4. Add the veggies to the pot, turn down the heat and let simmer for about half an hour.
  5. When the half hour is finished, crack the eggs in a small bowl and scramble. Turn the heat off the soup, drop in the egg and lightly swirl it around a bit. Serve over rice or with the rice on the side and garnish with a dash of coriander.
  6. Ready to eat!
[Serves 2]
  • You don't have to use pork, of course. You could go without meat or substitute shrimp instead. If you do use pork, though, try to get have it as thin as possible. Here they have great thin "schnitzel" cuts of pork that all I have to do is quickly chop into a few pieces. Otherwise, you can get a couple thick pork chops and cut it into thin strips.
  • My proportions are a bit on the spicy side. You may want to start lighter.
  • I realize ginger is probably not a "staple" for most people. It's not really essential, but it lends a good balance to the soup. Ginger is cheap and lasts for weeks, have fun and grab a root!


Veggie Soup à la Rani

In the first of what I hope are many submissions by friends and OntheFly readers, I'm happy to present my dear friend Rani's veggie soup. Rani is a far better cook than I am, so I am very grateful that he sent this recipe my way for soup month. He's also a bit of a 'closet chef', so if you like this recipe, do take a second to show your appreciation in the comments or on Facebook so that I may have more ammunition when encouraging him to go to culinary school.

And if you would like to send me easy, flying recipes of your own, I'm happy to announce that this week I've activated a new email account to receive your submissions:

[Prep: 10-20min* / Cook: 15min-2hrs**]
*depends on your chopping skills
**all veggie, so edible when boiled, but flavors improve with prolonged cooking

- 4 cups (1L) beef broth
- 4 zucchinis
- 4 celery stalks
- 3 carrots
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 butternut squash
- 1/2 cup of bean sprouts
- 3 tsp each pepper, cumin, coriander, ginger root
- 2 tsp each salt, garlic powder, oregano,
- 1 tsp chili powder

- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 Tbsp each cilantro and parsley
- 1 Tbsp sage
- 3 tsp basil

1.  Get the broth boiling (or dissolve a beef bouillon cube in water to make beef broth) and start chopping the veggies. Discard bell pepper seeds and thoroughly rinse the bean sprouts.  Set the onion aside.
2.  Dump the veggies into the top with all the beautiful spices.
3.  As that all gently boils, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions with the herbs from the second portion of the ingredients list until the onion turns clear. Dump in the pot with all the rest.
4.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook until veggies reach desired softness and broth is flavorful.
5.  Ready to eat!
[Serves 2, twice]

  • This isn't quite vegetarian because of the use of beef broth, but if vegetarian is what you desire, you can- of course -swap out veggie broth for the beef.
  • If you're like me- not a vegetarian and want your soup to be as much of a full meal as possible -I would add cubed beef tips (or any other decent stewing beef) in the beginning. Add some toast and you're meal is done!
  • OR really make it a meal and add cubed potatoes, orzo or rice and have a hearty stew.


ABC Soup

It's funny. When I look up this soup, every entry I find starts the exact same way it was initially described to me: "I don't know why it's called ABC Soup, and there really aren't any rules on what to put in it...".

So here's my official prognosis: ABC Soup is just an easy soup of left-over veggies and a bit of meat. If you have vegetable scraps and a piece of chicken breast sitting around in your fridge, you can make this soup. It really is a fantastic solution for when you just need to eat.

This is also [make note because this may not happen again] my boyfriend's recipe-- sort of. He taught it to me about a year or so ago when he wanted to make dinner one night, and I gradually tweaked the recipe until it reached its current state. Sometimes the vegetables change depending on what's in my fridge, and I've been using rice a lot more than potatoes, but here's the general idea:

[Prep: 5-20min* / Cook: 30min - 4hrs**]
*depending on your vegetable chopping skills and desired level of "choppiness"
**cooked in 30, but broth tastes best the longer you go

- 500 mL (about 2 cups) chicken broth or water with a chicken bullion/stock cube
- 2 chicken breasts or 1/2lb+ other chicken parts
- 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp of black pepper
- 1/2 tsp coriander/cilantro

An array of veggies:
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2-3 white or champanion mushrooms, sliced
- 2-3 carrots, cut into big chunks
- 2 small/medium tomatoes cut into quarters or eights
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced/chopped
- a few slices of ginger
- a couple small yellow/white potatoes, cut into big chunks

1.  Bring the broth to a boil over high heat and chop your veggies. Dump veggies into the pot.
2.  Cut chicken breast down to manageable sizes if desirable. [I completely skip this step if I'm cooking the soup for an hour or more]
3.  Add the chicken to the pot. Wait for the soup to return to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium or medium low, cover and let simmer for 30min to several hours, depending on your preference.
4.  Ready to eat!

  • A couple recipes make this with pork ribs or tips. I was taught with chicken, so mine is chicken-based.
  • The broth tastes better when you use the dark meat and pieces on the bone...the trade-off is having to pick bones out of your soup.
  • This soup is already an all-in-one meal with the meat and veggies and potatoes, but if you want to add more carbs, or just swap out rice for potatoes, you can stir in cooked white/brown rice right before serving. You could cook the rice right in with the soup, but this would require a bit more care and water.


Soothing Soups

Ginger Chicken Soup
Ginger Chicken uploaded by satakieli
With snow almost coming down on my home town last week, it seems like no one can escape winter this year. And with February usually making me shiver (musical reference intended), it's probably the perfect time to explore some nice warm soups and stews.

Fact: drinking a bowl of chicken soup will help you overcome a little winter cold. Actually, most soups will probably help you battle that cold-- not for any magical ingredients in the broth, but the extra dose of liquid goes a long way in helping your body when you're sick. Sometimes there's really something to those old home-remedies.

Now how does something that has to sit on the stove for hours end up on OntheFly? Well...

They're Quick and Easy

A soup can cook in as little as 30 minutes ... or even less if your meat is pre-cooked or you're going vegetarian. And even if you opt to really simmer away your soup for a couple hours or more, it doesn't get much simpler than throwing everything in a pot and walking away for a few hours of television or Facebooking.

I just love to make a big 'ole pot of something on Monday night, seal up the left-overs and eat it again for lunch or dinner later on in the week. If you don't like eating the same thing more than once in a week, one easy way to mix things up is to add in rice or pasta on the second night or even add new vegetables or seasonings.

They Can be All-in-One Meals

What I really like best about soups is that you can really turn them into a whole meal. Once you've put in rice/pasta, meat and veggies, you're set! And if you really want to go low-impact, you can cheat and use a pre-made soup base like tomato, cheese, cream of chicken/celery/mushroom and just add to it. Remember the tomato soup stew?

Tomato & Basil Soup with Tortellini
Tomato & Basil Soup with Tortellini uploaded by nettsu
Make Quick Fixes with Basic 
Soup Mixes

Similarly, here are some ways to work with pre-made condensed soups or instant soups:
  • tomato soup +  spiral pasta, peperoni and mozzarella cheese
  • cheese/cream of broccoli soup + broccoli, onions, cubed chicken/ham, potatoes
  • cream of mushroom soup + frozen peas & carrots, cubed chicken, bacon bits
  • vegetable soup + potatoes or rice, cubed beef/pork, even more veggies

Embrace Ramen

Ramen uploaded by barron
I know I give ramen noodles a lot of crap, but they can be quite useful. Take your basic ramen and throw in shredded lettuce & cabbage and cooked chicken, then top it all off by cracking an egg into it. Suddenly the dorm room staple is actually dinner! You can do other cool things with ramen like turning it into a stir-fry, but that's a recipe for another day...

Go Homemade All-the-Way

And finally, once you become thoroughly convinced with the ease of jazzing up Campbell's and Ramen,  try your hand at making the entire soup, broth and all from scratch. Check out my best bud Rachel's very timely post this week on making homemade chicken broth using chicken and vegetable scraps that you pack away in your freezer and then put to good use making a yummy soup base.

Happy Cooking!
Alphabet Soup