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.
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.