Here in Northern Virginia, today is a snow day. The kids are home from school, it is super chilly (even inside), and all I want is my favorite Snow Day Soup and some crusty bread for dinner. There is some backstory to this soup.
It is not chef-inspired, it has some fresh and some frozen and pre-packaged ingredients, and I am not going to apologize for that. This is basically a streamlined version of the soup my mom made throughout my childhood. It is especially memorable, because it was one of the few dishes that she made that was truly delightful. That alone made it stand out, but it also always followed a trip to the kosher meat market, which was my favorite thing to do…ever. While I would stand at the meat counter, gazing at the giant beef tongues wagging at me from inside the chilled case, my mom would ask the butcher for the “flanken.” I am not really sure what the literal translation of this is, but I am pretty sure the Yiddish means the scraps from the better cuts of meat or more probably the meat from the flank of the animal…. The tough cuts that you have to cook for a very long time, so that they will magically transform into fall-apart tender chunks of savory goodness. Anyway, we always called this soup “Flanken soup,” and it was an event that everyone looked forward to after our monthly pilgrimage to Maryland to buy our kosher meat. The gigantic poppyseed Hamentaschen from the bakery was my other favorite, but I digress.
The other reason I wanted to share this recipe, is that I wanted to create kind of a tribute to Manischewitz. You see, I was just lucky enough to win a contest that they offered for one of their products…a do-it-yourself Channukah House Kit. Thank you so much to Manischewitz! I am so honored. Here is my Chanukah House:
Anyway, while I was writing back and forth to the company, I realized that many of my early food memories involved their products. Which brought me to my favorite memory of all…”Flanken Soup”. It features Manischewitz’s Split Pea soup mix, and sometimes the vegetable soup mix, or both! You see, this recipe is fluid and flexible, and you can play with it to make it your own.
First, you cube your meat into large but kind-of bite sized pieces. I used a chuck roast here, but shortribs or stew meat works well. Note that the fattier the meat, the better. You don’t want to use lean stew meat…. Do trim any large pieces of fat, however.
Here are the soup mixes: This is for a HUGE pot of snow day soup. If you want to make a smaller amount, just use one split pea soup mix. These are easily found in the kosher section of almost every grocery store.
Another gratuitous meat shot! Approximately 2 lbs, but you could use more or less, depending on how many people you are feeding.
Brown the meat in your soup pot in a little oil on high heat. If you are in a rush, you can skip this step, but I highly recommend it.
Cut up your potato (1 large), mushroom (about 10 ounces), and carrot (about 1-2 cups). I like the mushrooms diced, but sliced works as well. Baby carrots are fine- sometimes I leave them whole, sometimes not. Waxy potatoes work well, but I only had a russet today.
Put them all in the pot, with a couple of bay leaves, a small bag of frozen cut green beans (use fresh if you want, but it will all come out the same in the end…), the split pea soup mix (with the seasoning packet, and the veggie soup mix (I did not add the small pouch of noodles, but everything else). I added a bit of leftover Lima beans that I had kicking around, but that is optional.
Now, fill her up with water. You want it to cover all the meat and veggies plus an extra 2 inches or so. It will seem watery, but when the peas cook, it will thicken quite a bit. This is almost more of a stew or porridge consistency when done.
Once it come up to a simmer, cover for about an hour. Stir, and reduce heat to medium-low. Keep pot uncovered and at a low simmer for about 3-4 hours, or as long as possible! Stir it occasionally. Season with a ton of black pepper and salt, to taste. The soup mix has salt in it, so you usually don’t need much (if any at all).
Okay, so this is kind of a homey/homely rustic looking stew, but take my word for it. It is delicious! Better the second day, if there are leftovers. It is a full dinner and very hearty, so enjoy with some crusty bread or biscuits and you are done. Enjoy!
P.s. You could make this in a large crockpot on high, if you put it in early in the morning, and cook it uncovered for the second half of the day.