Onion Bread (and Split Pea Soup)

With the return of the cold spell, we return to comfort food. Not only did I break out David Crockpot, but I brought forth the bread machine as well. If you have one, this onion bread is amazing. 

Back when we had our old house on the market, I would play dirty and have a batch of onion bread going at every viewing and open house. People would step into the kitchen and go into a trance. "What is that...?"

Try it and see: as soon as the machine hits the bake cycle, the kitchen fills up. It's sweet with brown sugar, flecked with poppy seeds, and packs heat from black pepper. It's superb with split pea or lentil soup, toasted with cheese, and any leftovers make amazing croutons to toss into a green salad, or even into a panzanella with cherry tomatoes, onions and beans.

Onion Bread

  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 2 tbsp dry milk
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dried onions
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper (you might want to start with 1/2 tsp if you're making this for the first time)
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds (which I think is stingy, I make it more like a tablespoon)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fast-rise yeast or 3 tsp active dry yeast

Measure and add all ingredients to the bread pan in the order listed.  Bake according to machine directions.

Split Pea Soup

This will be prose recipe, as I'm sure everyone has their own methodology for Split Pea Soup.

Once upon a time, there was bacon. 

Now there are two purposes to making bacon: one, to have bacon (duh); and two, to have leftover bacon grease with which to saute greens or provide a base for split pea soup. If you don't have any, no big deal, you can saute up some ham or just use olive oil. But there's nothing like bacon. While I'm frying it, I line a small bowl with foil and pour the grease off into there. When it's cool I wrap the foil packet in another piece of foil and put it in the freezer. When I want to use it, I just slice off a chunk with a sharp knife. Usually I end up slicing off some bits of foil that got smushed in and frozen, but as the fat melts, those are easily picked out with tongs.

Saute onions, garlic, carrots and celery in the bacon fat, then dump that into the crockpot. Add a bag of dried split peas—I love yellow split pea soup because it's pretty, but you can't go wrong with classic green. 12 cups of liquid: chicken broth, vegetable broth, a mix of broth and water. A bay leaf. Cover. Go away for 6-8 hours.

When the soup is done, some people serve as is, country style. Others blend the soup to gourmet smoothness. I have a foot in both camps: I skim out most of the carrots with a slotted spoon and put them aside, then I blend smooth and stir the carrots back in. I do this because I'm all about visual appeal, and I like the look of the orange carrots floating in the soup, especially if it's yellow-split pea.  If I'm making green split-pea and I blend all the veggies in, the carrots turn the soup a really weird color.

Unfortunately there is no money shot as we packed this up and took it over to some friends for dinner.  It got eaten before I remembered to take a picture.  But it looked something like this in a less attractive bowl.

(Photo credit: SimplyRecipes.com):