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October 12, 2007
It was one of those Martha Stewart mornings -- up at five to bake four loaves of bread and make Anglican Split Peace Soup, a vegetarian delicacy guaranteed not to offend anybody. It's a fine dish, really, and very good for you. For one, I mean. Very good for one.

Martha, I think, would never make something called Anglican Soup, of any kind. She's Polish, which, I assume, means that she grew up Roman Catholic, but she never writes about religion or churchgoing. Just perfect vegetables and fruits, recipes, getting stains out of things, wallpaper and paint, fine fabrics and, probably, growing one's own mushrooms. I adore her, although I'm not sure I'd eat a mushroom Martha gave me without having it checked. But maybe I would. In any case, it's only 8:30 and the day already has a lot of culinary miles on it. Read this recipe carefully.

Anglican Split Peace Soup

Heat a nice heavy old large pot on a medium flame. Add
1 tbsp olive oil
After a minute, add
3 medium chopped onions
Cook and stir for about five minutes and add
3 medium chopped carrots
2 cloves chopped garlic
a handful of chopped fresh parsley
and cook and stir 5 minutes more, perhaps. Notice how pretty it is, all the colors.
Then add
3 quarts water, preferably water you have saved from cooking vegetables
Or plain old water. The soup will be good whatever you use, if you're cooking
with love and an open mind about it. That's one reason it's Anglican.
1 lb split peas
a bay leaf
handful of pink peppercorns. From the Southern Cone, you know.

Bring to the boil; notice how lovely it is now, with a golden froth on top, studded with the bits of carrot and the pink peppercorns -- then come back to your senses and turn the flame down to ensure a steady gentle bubbling simmer. Give it some time, for heaven's sake, about an hour and a half or two hours. You must stir the pot once in a while to get the good stuff on the bottom back into the mix -- that's true in most of life's endeavors. Keep checking it; you may need to add more water as it cooks down.

Now it will be cooked: the peas a lovely thick layer on the bottom, the onions all but dissolved, the carrots bright orange in the midst of the wonderful green, the peppercorns here and there. At this point, Martha would insist that you strain your soup, putting it through a very expensive piece of equipment called a chinois, which is really just a sieve, and discard the solids that remain. She feels soup should be perfectly smooth and uniform.

I don't. I think the flecks of carrot, the occasional warm pop of a pink peppercorn in my mouth, the slight memory of the peas' original shapes haunting the soup, all add to its delight. I don't even care if you leave the bay leaf in -- it's an aromatic, not really a thing a person would actually eat, but it won't hurt one of your guests to find it in his soup and it will give him something to talk about. If you let it, your bay leaf can function rather like one of the Historical Documents of the Episcopal Church does in the Prayer book: an interesting reminder of how we got where we are.

At the end, you might wish round out the flavor by adding a tablespoon or two of dry sherry, another Anglican touch.

Serve with lovely bread. Should serve about 12 people. Anglican Split Peace -- my favorite!

Beautiful Soup

Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Beautiful Soup! Soup of the evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of Beautiful Soup?
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beautiful Soup! Beautiful Soup! Soup of the evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!
-- words by Lewis Carroll

You can buy a chinois on a stand, with a pestle made of real beechwood, at Williams Sonoma for $89.00. Or one can just forget the whole thing. percent3A percent2F percent2Faol percent2Fsearch percent3Fencquery percent3D78ba9d75d9fd9dab7426edd92b2aab88f6b55f47d77ff522 percent26invocationType percent3Dkeyword_rollover percent26ie percent3DUTF-8
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