What I had for dinner:
It's getting chillier, so it is time to return to the high-calorie recipes.
Usually, I prefer split-pea puree to soup, something solid enough to eat with a spoon, which I prepare with chorizo or sopressata, but it was time for a change. I browned a finely sliced onion in olive oil, then added water (about 3-4 qts), 2 cups of green split peas, two bay leaves, a tablespoon of fennel seeds, the minced peel of one lemon, 4 whole and 2 crushed cloves of garlic (for the uninitiated, intact garlic is pretty much odorless; crushing it releases enzymes that free the pungent aroma from a precursor in the cells. Thus the taste of whole and crushed or sliced garlic is very different), and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper sauce (Indonesian sambal oelek, readily available in Chinatown). This was cooked in a pressure cooker for 30 min (count on 1-1/2 hr in an ordinary pot), at which point the peas had completely disintegrated.
I then added 1/2 lb of diced cooked ham on the bone (from Zabar's; Canadian bacon works just as well) and 1/2 diced chayotte (for the crunchiness; it is pretty much tasteless), cooked for 2 minutes, turned off the heat, and added a handful each of diced celery and carrots, and sliced scallions. That's it: ready to ladle out. Serve with toasted sour dough bread, and drink a hearty Samuel Smith Russian Imperial Stout.