Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grandma Rose's split pea soup with flanken (beef short ribs)

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My Grandma Rose was a good Jewish cook. We had dinner with my grandparents most Friday nights, not because it was Shabbat - we weren't observant - but because my brother and I had piano lessons on Friday afternoons close to their house.

Grandma Rose's repertoire wasn't huge, but what she made was very good. Chicken fricassee with little meatballs, my dad's favorite. Matzoh ball soup, which I later found out was Lipton's instant chicken noodle soup with matzoh balls from a mix. Stuffed cabbage, done sweet-and-sour Russian-style with golden raisins. Her famous rugelach once or twice a year. And, when we were really lucky, thick split pea soup with flanken beef ribs.


When Grandma Rose made split pea soup, she made a lot - enough to send us home with a few zip-top bags for our freezer. This soup warmed my belly on many a cold New York day.

If Grandma Rose had a recipe for this soup, I never saw it. I'm sharing with you my best guess. I know she used flanken (beef short ribs) and dried dill. I think I remember carrots and celery. My mother says Grandma used tiny pasta, but I like the chew of pearl barley.

A note about ingredients: If you can't find flanken (pronounced FLAHN-ken), regular short ribs or boneless English short ribs will do. I used dried dill weed from Spice Islands, which I find particularly flavorful (the Spice Islands people sent me a sample specifically to use in this recipe). They harvest the dill as it's flowering and include the tiny yellow flowers with the leaves when they dry the dill, which they say accounts for its potency.

By the way, the bowl in the photos is from a set of china that was handed down to me by my grandmother via my mother. No one else in the family wanted it because it can't go in the dishwasher. Lucky me!




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Split pea soup with flanken (beef short ribs)
My grandmother's stick-to-your-ribs split pea soup - the perfect dish for a chilly day. It's much better after it sits for a day or two in the refrigerator, so plan ahead.
Ingredients
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 6 ribs of celery
  • 6 carrots
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 pounds flanken (or regular short ribs)
  • 1 pound green split peas
  • 1/2 pound pearl barley
  • 3 Tbsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
Chop the onions, celery and carrots. Aim for 1/2-inch pieces, but don't get all OCD about it. You want them all roughly the same size, but a little bigger or smaller won't make a difference at all.Heat the oil in a large pot and brown the ribs on all sides. Remove the ribs to a plate, then add the chopped vegetables to the fat in the pot. Stir a minute or two until everything is coated in fat and starting to soften.Put the meat back in the pot, then add the split peas, pearl barley and dried dill. Add enough water to cover it all and bring the pot to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot, and simmer the soup at least 2 hours, until it is thickened and the meat is tender.Shred the meat with two forks (or your fingers if you've let the soup cool for a while). The bones will have slipped out of the meat, so fish them out from the bottom of the pot with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper - you will need much more salt than seems reasonable, but keep salting until it tastes right to you.Serve hot for a hearty one-pot lunch or dinner.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12-14 servings

18 comments:

Rebecca said...

This looks delicious. :) Can't wait to try it out later this week!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm...a split pea soup that resembles a hearty beef-vegetable stew with a lot of peas. A great improvement over a sea of only peas, sometimes flavored by a leftover ham bone, but always resembling a scoop from a swamp.

SPinneo said...

Now I'm hungry. I love this dish. I never thought of adding barley...

Mari said...

It looks yummy! I also make split peas soup, it is one of my favorites. I love how this soup looks, nice and chunky. I will most definitely give your Grandma Rose's soup recipe a try. Thanks Erika :)

Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen said...

Looks like the kind of meal that would warm you up and make you feel so good.

KC Quaretti- Lee said...

Erika, you are so lucky to have your grandmother's dishes and how marvelous that you were able to recreate her recipe! I'm definitely going to try this when it cools down a bit here in Florida!

Erika said...

KC - actually, I have very few written recipes from my grandmother - only memories. Luckily I was able to work from those memories for this dish. With others I've been far less successful....

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

Delicious comfort food!

SPinneo said...

I think KC meant the actual bowl!
I have my paternal grandmother's silver, and remember so well where she used to keep it in her home, in its wooden box.
But I too have no recipes. She used to make beef roasts in her pressure cooker... which I'm not eager to try. She made delicious twice-baked potatoes. I make them now too, but I have no idea if I'm doing things the same way that she did.

Erika said...

Sarah and KC - DUH. Sorry I was being thick before. Yes, I am lucky to have the dishes! Actually I also have my grandmother's wedding crystal (or might have been my great-grandmother's, not sure). Not a whole set, but at least a dozen pieces....

Hilary Cable said...

Mmmmm... this recipe could restore my faith in split pea soup! And lucky you, indeed. The china is gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Made this last night. It was delicious. Thank you for sharing your grandmother's recipe.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Anon I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Alicia said...

My grandmother makes this too - I don't like stew because of the gravy, but this is essentially stew with "split pea gravy"... love it!

Anonymous said...

Try fresh dill, they sell it the refrigerated produce section, also fresh parsley too. My family adds a box of elbow macaroni instead of the barley, but I love barley, so I'll be trying that next time! If you do use macaroni wait until 30 minutes before serving to add it.

Erika Kerekes said...

@Anonymous thanks for the macaroni tip!

Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward said...

What a beautiful dish. I love making pea soup. Yours looks very special! Your grandmother must have been quite the balabusta! Best, Shanna (shannaward.com)

Erika Kerekes said...

@Shanna yes, she was indeed a balabusta - a term that my brother now freely uses to describe me. :)

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