Howling Duck Ranch’s own peas, pea soup

Dried Alaska peas for seed and soup.

Dried Alaska peas for seed and soup.

This year, in the attempt to achieve ‘Personal Food Sovereignty’, I decided to experiment with some legumes. I grew (or rather, attempted to grow) the main legumes we like to eat in general, and generally eat often.

Thus, I attempted to grow the following with varying degrees of success: lentils, cannelli beans, black turtle beans, garbanzo beans, broad beans, pinto beans, soya beans, and adzuki beans.

Attempting to become sovereign in legumes turned out to be an extremely educational experience: an utter failure on the one hand and a completely enlightening experience on the other. Not only were most crops a definite failure, (several varieties  barely made their presence known in the garden thanks to their penchant for warmer climes), but also of those that tried to participate in the project–through sheer will and determination–didn’t go the distance. They simply didn’t make it to the dry shell out stage of maturation before the rotting rains of our fall pounded them into a pulpy mess.

Despite the miserable failures, there were several key learning points along the way: I learned the growth pattern of lentils and, thus, why I won’t attempt to grow them again–too small, too difficult to hand thresh,  too little food value return for the work involved. I also learned which ones I will try  again next year, for example, black beans, but not for its dried shell out possibilities but rather to eat at the green stage–they are extraordinarily yummy as a green bean.

Peas laid out on my kitchen table drying.

Peas laid out on my kitchen table drying.

I did  have great success with was my Alaska pea crop. Upon realizing that most of the legumes I was experimenting with were simply not going to amount to much, I summoned the peas and insisted they rise to the occasion. I was planning to let some go to seed anyway, and already had enlisted a few exceptional plants–marking them for seed saving purposes for next year’s crop.

I had not been able to find any information on the subject of letting the regular garden peas going to the dried stage for soup and dahl making purposes, but throwing caution to the wind I decided, ‘why not?’

Another reason I decided to let some of the regular fresh pea crop go to the dry shell out stage was that the food value relationship versus time must be better at the dry shell out stage. It occurred to me one day while harvesting the fresh Alaska peas for dinner, I was conscious of just how long it was taking to get enough for two for dinner–a long time! So, I rationalized, considering it takes just as much time to shell out fresh as it does the dried, but as a dry bean, the protein and carbohydrate value has increased significantly, why not  let these peas turn into legumes? They may not be the right pea for habitant pea soup, but in terms of local eating, food security, self-provisioning, etc., they would have to do!

Here is the recipe I developed for my own pea soup peas!

Howling Duck Ranch’s Own Peas, Pea Soup

3 tbsp Olive oil (but any oil will do, and if I had access to beef or pork tallow/lard, I would use that).

1 large onion

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced zucchini

3 garlic cloves, sliced thin

salt, to taste

fresh ground pepper, to taste

Herbs to taste: thyme, savory, sage, parsley, oregano

Spices to taste: allspice (if using, cut back on pepper)

3 cups dried peas (soaked in 6-8 cups of water for several hours)

More water as needed for cooking soup

Soup stock: ideally use boiled salt pork or a ham hock.

If you don’t have access to salt pork then substitute with one of the following: ham flavoured stock, or bouillon cube, or home made stock from pork bones (in a pinch, I have even cooked bacon and used the drippings as the stock base), you can also make it vegetarian if you wish.


Caramelize the the veggies, cooking the onion first in oil, then carrot, garlic and zucchini. Add salt and pepper, and cook until veggies are soft. Add the soaked but drained peas, pour in enough water and stock to cover by an inch. bring to a boil. After bringing the peas to a steady boil, turn the heat off and cover for 10 minutes.

At this point, you can transfer the whole pot to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Alternatively, keep boiling the soup until the peas turn to mush. Add desired herbs and spices, adjust salt and pepper to taste.

This soup demands to be dipped and dredged, so serve it with good, hearty, home made bread.


Filed under Food Security, How to..., Preserving the harvest, Sustainable Farming, Vegetable gardening

13 responses to “Howling Duck Ranch’s own peas, pea soup

  1. olddani

    I am so pleased I am not the only legume failure. It makes me feel less pathetic. I haven’t given up yet though.
    The pea soup sounds scrumptious.

  2. LittleFfarm Dairy

    Yummmm….sounds delicious!

    Just wondering what you do with the pods, & the pea straw? Here in the UK one of the most sought-after crops by goat keepers is pea straw, the goats love it. Unfortunately we don’t live in an area where peas are grown commerically, so our goats only get the occasional treat from our veg garden (not that it was up to much this year what with all the torrential rain, slugs etc).

  3. EJ

    Tis the time of year for food that demands to be dipped and dredged – as you put it so well!

  4. Try again next year, this year was unusually wet for drying beans, I ended up canning and freezing most of my dry bean crop as shelly beans instead. They were three weeks later than usual.

    You might get an entirely different outcome next year.

  5. ‘Scuse my ignorace as an innocent Limey, but can you explain the principles of canning, please?

    Here in the UK we home-preserve food in all sorts of weird & wonderful ways; however you never hear about people doing ‘home canning’ (I suspect because of the inherently high risk of salmonella if it isn’t done properly).

    I’d love to know what it involves as I feel we are missing out somehow – especially as this year it’s been too wet to dry out any crops properly (including for the most part hay & straw, which is a worry).

  6. “but also of those that tried to participate in the project–through sheer will and determination–didn’t go the distance.”

    You’re so funny, great writing and great reading.

  7. Olddani–let’s drink a toast to us ‘failures’ and as Trapper says, try again next year!

    Trapper–never give up eh!

    Little FFarm–I have never given a thought to giving the goats the dry pea straw…fresh stuff yes. I didn’t know they would eat it as straw though, thanks! I will do a post on home canning principles just for you (though it may be just a clash of terminology). You may call it ‘bottling’ and know all about it already?

    EJ–dipping and dredging and using up leftovers–my favourite thing about making (and eating) soup. I’d love to hear about the sourdough workshop…did you have it yet? Also, how did you get a local baker involved??? Great community development work, well done!

    SBW–glad you are enjoying the writing, thanks for the encouraging feedback! It is particularly encouraging in light of the fact I’m writing a book about this whole experience, and it is turning out completely different than what I had originally planned.

  8. Botulism is the high risk with canning low acid foods, due to the anerobic conditions of a sealed jar. Botulism is much more serious than salmonella.

  9. Sorry T@TC – it was botulism I meant; not salmonella (& I certainly wouldn’t want to contract botulism, which is a killer – not that I fancy salmonella, either mind you!). Rust has clogged the old brain cells from all this rain, I’m afraid.

    Err…I do remember from my professional food hygiene training course though, that botulism is actually an anaerobic pathogen rather than aerobic (i.e. it uses little or no oxygen). Anything with a pH much higher than 4.5 (veggies, meats etc) should be given the good old ‘botulinum cook’ treatment to render the product sterile: 121 degrees celcius for 3 minutes after which the cans should be cooled with chlorinated water.

    I suppose I’m just surprised if ‘home canning’ is literally that; it seems to be a process potentially fraught with danger, hence I’m curious to learn what it entails in the home kitchen.

  10. LFfD, OOPS my spelling is bad – that extra a gets me all time.

    Home canning of low acid foods, which here (US) is usually in jars, is usually done with a pressure cooker . (Or acidic foods can be safely canned in a water bath canner.) To be safe, the gauges should be checked each year for correct pressure readings, and tested recipes used with allowances for elevation taken into consideration. It is recommended that low acid foods be brought to boiling for 10 – 15 minutes before tasting and consumption. It is safe, if the person who is canning pays attention to details, and is a conscientous sort. I have friends, who I would never eat their canned goods, since I know their attention span is not long enough to watch a pressure gauge for 90 minutes.

    All that being said, if proper recipes and guidelines are followed, I think home canning is perfectly safe.

  11. I think the media has a lot to answer to with respect to making us believe that home canned foods are not safe. If you follow the principles, they are completely safe. Little Farm, I will get to that post for you!

  12. Don’t worry about the spelling T@TC – you’re one of the few who DOES get it right, it drives me mad sometimes (you should see the way some people address our mail!).

    I entered some of our gelato in a national competition earlier in the year & they wrote on the prize certificate etc, “Little Dairy Farm”. I asked if the name could be changed & the steward replied that they assumed I’d made a mistake on the entry form (as if I don’t know the name of my own home & business!) & said, “Does it really matter anyway…?” Yes, it did; we naturally wanted everyone to know we’d won – to encourage them to buy the gelato!

    So as you can imagine I wish I’d never called it LittleFfarm Dairy; the only reason we did is because the Welsh name of the place – “Ffarm Fach” simply means, “Little Farm”. So I think next year I’ll mark any competiton entries, “Lovespoon” – the name of the ice cream….! (Incidentally a lovespoon is a traditional Welsh gift: a handcarved wooden spoon which a man would make for his sweetheart. The symbols carved into the spoon each have specific meanings; we just thought it was a charming & appropriate name). People even get that wrong, though….

    Regarding canning, aha! So it’s not actually canning as in tin cans, but jars! Obviously we do preserve food in jars here in the UK; but generally the food is treated first & then sealed into pre-sterilised jars or bottles. So this revelation solves the mystery for me: I always thought ‘canning’ involved the metal variety of receptacle & thought it was a lot of trouble/risk to go to if simply preserving a few veggies at home!

    Would still be very grateful for a recipe on how you guys do it though, to give it a try myself when I’m feeling adventurous & have sufficient time…..

  13. HDR, will give a proper tutorial I’m sure. My cousins are fisherman, and they actually do can their salmon in cans. I have helped them, but I prefer the jar method myself. Plus, I like looking at the jars with their jewel like contents.

    That’s too bad about the spelling and mixing up of your farm name. I fear it is getting worse. I’ve seen people who refuse to capitalize now. They are making a statement against authority. To me, it makes is hard to read without proper capitalization, and/or punctuation.

    The gelato sounds wonderful, BTW. Congratulations!

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