Barbecue sauce (Recipe: meat-free split pea soup)
A couple of months ago, I spilled the beans about my relationship to Miracle Whip. My friends were aghast, my cooking buddies appalled, my family amused.
Now, hold on to your coffee mug, because I've got another shocking pantry revelation.
I keep a bottle of barbecue sauce in my refrigerator at all times.
I'm not picky about the brand, as long as it's smoky and sweet. I buy whatever's on sale.
I don't read the nutrition label too closely, either. If I did, I'd find that the first ingredient listed is high fructose corn syrup. Also on the list: caramel, molasses, corn syrup and sugar. Yup. Five different sweeteners.
Don't get me wrong. I don't have a sweet tooth, and I don't use bottled barbecue sauce on the barbie. I don't slather it on meat or chicken or ribs, either. For that, I make sauce from a prized recipe that my friend Candy got several years ago from Gil Slater, who ran a BBQ operation out of a trailer across the road from a truck stop on Route 102 in Rhode Island. (Gil had built his own rig, and grew his own scotch bonnet peppers for his special sauce. He offered a limited menu: chicken, pork, and the best sweet potato fries anywhere.)
No, this barbecue sauce serves a different purpose entirely; it takes the place of ham hocks or smoked meat in my soup recipes. I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat pork, and there are some soups, especially legume-based soups, that really benefit from the smoky taste of ham or bacon.
Barbecue sauce has been one of my secret ingredients for years. It adds smoke, and sweet, without heat or meat.
Meat-free split pea soup
With dark bread or a grilled cheese sandwich, this is a feast. Can be frozen. Serves 6-8.
1 cup green or yellow split peas
3 cups water, or a mix of 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock + 2 cups water
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cup smoky barbeque sauce
1/4 tsp dill weed
lots of black pepper
Put all ingredients into a stockpot. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for at least one hour until the beans "dissolve." You might need to add a bit of water if the peas are cooking too fast. When the peas are soft, you can use an immersion blender or food processor to puree, but it's usually not necessary.