(with Smoked Beer)
You will need… clockwise from 1200: Schlenkerla Wheat Smokebeer (two unopened), 32 oz. box of chicken stock, one bottle of Schlenkerla Wheat Smokebeer (less 16 ounces for “tasting notes”), one pint glass of Schlenkerla Wheat Smokebeer (less four ounces for “Tasting Notes”)*, one half pound bacon (chopped), four tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, two large white onions (diced), two cups of carrots, celery, parsnips, and rutabaga (equal amounts of each, chopped), smoked pork neck bones (1.77 lb./$4.05), smoked pork ham hock (1.51 lb./$3.46), in the middle is two pounds of yellow split-peas. On the range top are an 8 quart stock-pot, and a large stirring spoon.
The first thing to do is turn on a medium-high heat under the soup pot and place the bacon in the bottom to cook.
When it is almost crisp, and as much of the fat has been rendered out, it is time to add the onions. Cook the onions and bacon together for about five minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Now turn the heat down to medium and toss in the chopped veggies. Let them cook with the onions and bacon until just tender, about five minutes or so…
When the veggies are just tender it’s time to toss the meat into the pot and pour the chicken stock and beer in after that. Next pour the yellow split peas in and finally toss in the chopped fresh parsley. Stir well and turn the heat down to low… place a lid on the pot and go have a few beers. It’s going to take at least four hours… stirring things up every half hour or so. Don’t rush the process.
After about three hours and a six-pack of sustenance it’s time to take the lid off the pot of soup and each stir-up should involve a fair bit of tasting. Did you notice I haven’t mentioned either salt or pepper? Well now is the time to add those two flavor enhancers…
Now… If it calls for a few more beers before the split-peas break down into an almost smooth puree then so be it. No greater sacrifice can be made by a chef in any kitchen than to swipe and swig a beer to insure the quality of the dish and to insure that enough time is taken to bring the dish to the epitome of perfection. Take the time to allow the collagens from the bones and tendons to become part of the soup. Allow the salt from the pork and the starches of the split-peas to synthesize into a sweet/salty/pork/onion/smoke flavor that only long slow simmering can accomplish.
Ladle out a bowl of this thick soup, pour one more beer and thank you Canada!
* Three pints of any amber or lighter colored smoked beer will do.