Summer has faded and autumn is just around the corner. The change of seasons brings cooler weather, shorter days, the start of football season and the new season for all our favorite shows.
I love the start of autumn because I can see myself curled up on the couch with a bowl of thick, bubbly hot soup watching my favorite team run and throw its way hopefully to the super bowl. (Well a girl can dream can’t she?)
Soup was always a big part of my life as a child growing up in Brooklyn. I remember my mom making many different kinds of soups. We had to live very frugally back then because money was always tight and periodically the family found itself living on welfare. Soup was just the thing to feed a large family. I had two favorite soups when I was young, split pea and potato.
As a young woman with a growing family and a tight budget I too worked to stretch whatever I could when planning meals. Soups became a way to warm the family on cold winter days and make ends meet.
My favorite meat for this ‘stretching’ was a ham. I always preferred the butt end of a ham because it has more meat and less fat. My mom could not always afford a ham so would buy a ham bone from the neighborhood butcher.
First I would bake a ham dinner complete with potatoes of some sort, a green vegetable and a fruit.
For the next couple of days I would make wonderfully delicious ham sandwiches, cut slices of ham into very small pieces and make omelets and then a great but very simple ham casserole.
But I always saved just enough ham on the bone to make a great pot of pea or bean soup that fed the family for at least two days. One serving for the day I made the soup and another would be stored in the freezer to be pulled out another day. Imagine being able to prepare 4-6 meals from one piece of meat. Wonderful!
1 pkg dried split peas, rinsed
10 cups water
1 ham bone (I leave just a little meat on the bone)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Pepper to taste
3 lbs potatoes, quartered (or smaller)
Ham, cut into bite size pieces
Pea soup is so easy to prepare. I remember my mom putting the dried peas in a pot of water and soaking overnight. I do not do that. I find that it was easier to put the peas into a pot with about ten (10) cups of water, bring to a boil for just a few minutes and then let stand for about an hour.
While the peas are sitting and softening I cut the meat off the bone. Then I cut the meat into bite size pieces and put aside until needed.
I add the bone, onion, and pepper to pot. Heat to boiling. I reduce the heat and simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until peas as really soft. (I add water several times while the peas are softening and the soup become thicker.)
Once the peas have dissolved I remove the bone and add the potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes-I add a little extra water.)
Finally I add the ham and cook through (about five or ten minutes)and season to taste. (I always add salt and pepper at the end.)
A bowl of smooth, tasty soup, a biscuit or a slice of crusty bread and you have a good, warm and hearty meal for a chilly evening.
The ham casserole my family really enjoyed all those years ago is also very simple to make. This recipe came as part of the Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library I purchased back in 1971.
Plantation Ham Pie:
2 T butter or margarine
3 cups cubed cooked ham
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cans (10 ½ ounces each) condensed cream of chicken soup
Parsley Pinwheels (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 425º. Melt butter in large skillet. Cook and stir ham, green pepper (I do use the green pepper) and onion in butter until ham is golden and onion is tender. Stir in soup and milk. Heat just to boiling, stirring frequently. Pour into ungreased baking dish, 8x8x2 inches; place in oven. Prepare Parsley Pinwheels; arrange on hot ham mixture. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes. 6 to 9 servings.
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
½ cup cold water
½ cup snipped parsley
Stir baking mix and water to a soft dough. Shape dough into a ball; knead lightly 5 times on a flour cloth-covered board. Roll into rectangle, 12×7 inches. Sprinkle parsley over dough. Roll up tightly, beginning at long side. Cut into 9 equal slices.
(Be sure the filling is hot when you top it with biscuits, keeping it in the oven—as in this recipe—while you stir up the biscuits).
Now that it is just Randy and I, I cut the recipe in half and it was just perfect for two people for dinner with a little left over for a bite for lunch.
Every time I go to the store I am amazed at the rising prices for all foods. I am not young anymore and my budget is not as tight but in today’s uncertain economic state it seems prudent to review old habits. I find myself once again using coupons on a regular bais and planning meals a week at a time to take advantage of utilizing everything in the pantry so as not to waste any food.
I don’t know how young people do it today. But then perhaps that is what people forty yeas ago were saying too. Everything changes and yet stays the same. Interesting isn’t it?
Well, anyway it is always good to economize and always good to eat a great meal.