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May 23, 2014 03:38 AM

Are there unmentioned steps in this pea soup recipe?

I have never used salt pork, and I want to make Mme Jehane Benoit's recipe for pea soup ("soupe aux quatorze affaires"). But I want to know whether there are unspoken steps involving the salt pork.

Her recipe calls for "1 lb. salt pork, lean and fat" (for 1 lb. of dried soup peas and 8 cups of water). The instructions for dealing with the salt pork are to rub it with 1 Tbsp of dry mustard, cover and refrigerate for 12 hours. Then put it in a pot with the peas, herbs and aromatics, and cook the lot for 3 or 4 hours. The last steps mention nothing about removing the chunk of salt pork.

Before following all of Mme Benoit's steps, does one need to boil the salt pork to remove some of the salt? Does one need to cut slices into it or cut it into chunks? Or does one slice or chop after the 12 hours in the fridge but before 3-4 hours in the pot? Is most of the salt pork supposed to melt away? Or does one just leave the chunk in the bottom when freezing and/or serving the soup?

I look forward to your responses!
fyi, here's the recipe:

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  1. I've never used salt pork but I use ham bones or ham hocks quite often. Following along the same lines, after cooking, I remove the bone and shred any actual meat and put back in the soup. At that point I would remove any fat chunks as well. I think the same would be said with the salt pork chunk. Hope that helps.

    1. i'd slice or at least chunk it up. there is enough liquid that you shouldn't have to worry about the soup being overly salty.

      most of the fat should melt away, but you can remove what's left at the end if you want.

      once cooked, taste a piece of the pork. if it remains tasty and moist, shred and leave in the soup. if it's dry and lifeless, remove and toss.

      9 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I've used salt pork many times in soups.
        I recommend you cut it into 1/2" cubes then slow simmer it for half an hour. Then pour off the water. Salt pork is called salt pork because it's VERY salty. Then gently sauté the cubes in a little oil until just golden brown. Then add them to the peas/water/bay leaf etc.
        Recently I have started using smoked pork jowl as a replacement for pork belly/salt pork/smoked ham hock. WAY WAY cheaper around these parts and 200% better flavour.

        1. re: Puffin3

          My local Honey Baked Ham shop sells ham bones and the ones I usually get have quite a bit of ham left on them. Works perfectly for beans & ham soup or split pea soup. And they are really cheap. They keep them in the freezer. I try to get at least 3 at a time.

            1. re: boyzoma

              I once bought a hambone from Honey Baked Ham and they charged $2.99 for the bone with some ham on it. I have been able to buy hams, shank or butt, for as little as .99¢ to $1.29 per pound. I think the latter are a better bargain when I wish to make either ham and bean or pea soup.

              1. re: John E.

                You are right that hams on sale are more economical than the Honeybaked bones. BUT: unless you feed a lot of people or don't mind frozen-then-thawed ham, it's way too much meat to deal with if your main wish is soup. You know the joke about the definition of eternity: two people and a whole ham. And while you can make good soup using just cut-up ham, if you have the bone you get the unctuousness of the collagen/cartilage/marrow rendered out of the bone. Buying the soup bone gives you the right amount of meat for a big (4 qt or more) pot of soup, sometimes with some to spare for sandwiches.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I understand the point of having too much ham. However, even if you cannot eat that much ham, it can always be used to make hamstock.

                  I came to this realization when I paid $12 for a 4# hambone from The Honey Baked Ham Store and then I bought an 8# bone-in ham for $8. I would rather freeze some ham to cube and crisp to sprinkle on the split pea soup than to over pay for a ham bone.

            2. re: Puffin3

              Smoked pork jowl….. I wonder if I could find _that_ in Toronto. Hmmmm. I know I can find unsalted pork belly in Asian supermarkets. Might smoked pork jowl be something available in Asian supermarkets? Or is that something local/traditional from your area, Puffin3?

              1. re: vjb

                I buy them from 'Thrifty Foods' on Van. Is.
                Basic large grocery store chain.
                Maybe yo can ask your local grocery stores.
                Instead of running all over TO maybe phone some stores.
                I bet Starsky has them.

                1. re: Puffin3

                  Other than some Italian style guanchile (sp?), the only place where I've seen cured pork jowl was at a grocery on Van Is - Campbell River to be specific. But it was from a company in Port Alberni (also on the Island).

                  It probably was Hertel Meats

          1. This is a poorly-written recipe. Does not say the size of the can of hominy. Does not say if the thyme and savory are fresh or dried. Says the same amount of mint whether dried or fresh (that would never be the case). Does not say whether peas are split or whole. Either way, they don't need anywhere near 3-4 hours and I imagine their flavor would be cooked to death. Make the stock, then add the peas in the last hour. Frankly, I can't see the pork or herbs needing that long, either.

            So I would not be surprised if there's more to the salt pork than included in the recipe. But I would never choose to make a recipe that is so sloppy. Pea soup is one of the easiest things to make. There are plenty of reliable recipes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              I'm making this dish at the request of my aged aunt; she found the recipe in _The Canadiana Cookbook_, which belonged to her parents. She chose it over the recipe in the Laura Secord cookbook, so I assume she wants the recipe with the mustard and the hominy.

              I'm willing to make modifications to the recipe. After all, I'm using split green peas (auntie dislikes yellow peas), but I'm under the impression that Quebecois pea soup used to be made with whole peas akin to marrowfat peas, or even marrowfat peas proper.

              [I once tried to make marrowfat peas, but I did _something_ wrong, because 12 or more hours of soaking and hours of cooking did not render them edible, let alone mushy]

              Would the salt from the pork make the peas difficult to cook? Hence the 3 to 4 hours?

              I had assumed that the herbs are dried simply because I'd assumed that any 'traditional' recipe relying on salted meat, dried legumes and lye-washed corn isn't going to include anything as outlandish as fresh herbs. As for the hominy, it's actually easier to find the dried kernels than canned ones. I'll soak _them_ for 12 hours and then cook for 3 or 4. I'll just add the peas later.

              Maybe the cookbook was made more as a symbolic representation of Canadian cooking (whatever that was or is) than as a volume of usable recipes.

              But my aunt makes few special requests, so I want to make her something with these kinds of ingredients -- dry mustard, herbes salées, pork, hominy, etc. I just don't want it to be disgustingly greasy or salty.

            2. Dang! I bet this is the famous French Canadian Bean Soup that Dutch Schultz raved about in his deathbed delirium. This has some other name, doesn't it - my Quebecoise friend makes something like this - it's the hominy that stood out to me.

              I've found that thyme and parsley will stay alive through the winter - although maybe not in Quebec! Mint, not really. So maybe it might not be completely outlandish to have SOME fresh herbs available even for a winter soup.

              1. Here's an "authentic" looking version of the recipe which mentions ham bone: