Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Split Pea Soup Recipe

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister

Split pea soup is a “stick to your ribs”, hearty soup. I make it with turkey kielbasa (Polish sausage), which turns it into a great winter’s meal.

(In Adelaide, Australia they serve green split pea soup with a meat pie floating in it. You buy it from street vendors and, as odd as it sounds, it’s actually delicious!)

Split pea soup, like all soups, has a flexible ingredient list. For this recipe you will need:

  • 1 pound of green split peas
  • 4 medium leeks
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 pound of Polish Turkey Kielbasa
  • 2 Tablespoons of Fresh chopped lemon thyme
  • Zest from one lemon
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Salt and Pepper

Leeks, a tasty vegetable, are a part of the onion family, but have a much milder flavor than their cousins. Trim the ends off and slice them into about ¼ inch slices. Be sure to wash them well!

Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in large pot. Add the dry leeks and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

As the leeks are cooking, “sort” the dried split peas. That means to look through them to make sure no tiny stone ended up in the bag. (Many dry beans need to be soaked for several hours or overnight before you can cook them. YOU DO NOT NEED TO SOAK THE SPLIT PEAS FOR THIS RECIPE, or any recipe for that matter.)

Then rinse them under cool, running water.

Add them to the pot, along with 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock. You can use the bouillon cubes to make the stock, or buy stock in a can.

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn it down to simmer. Cover the pot and simmer it for about 1 hour, giving it an occasional stir.

The peas are going to get totally soft and mushy, and the leeks are going to cook down completely. The soup is going to get really (really) thick.

Cut the turkey kielbasa into bite size pieces and add it to the pot.

Simmer the soup for about another 10 minutes. The sausage is already cooked so we are mostly just heating it through.

While the soup is simmering, chop the fresh lemon thyme. This has a wonderful, fresh, lemony flavor that adds such a lift to this soup! Pull the tiny leaves off the stem. Discard the stem and chop the leaves up.

I also like to add the juice of one lemon along with the zest.

Turn off the stove and add the lemon zest, juice, and lemon thyme. Give it a taste to see if it needs some salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add some more chicken or vegetable stock to thin it down a bit.

The soup is ready to serve!


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Cranberry Pinwheels

print recipe card posted in Appetizers and Snacks, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

These cranberry pinwheels are a great hors-d’oeuvre to serve year round, but they are especially perfect for the holidays. The dried red cranberries and the green scallions make them look really festive. Plus the sweet/savory combination of the cranberries, feta cheese and green onion make them particularly tasty. They can actually be made 1 day ahead of serving them.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1-8 ounces carton of whipped cream cheese
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 6 ounces of dried cranberries
  • 4-10 inch flour tortillas

There are many different brands of feta cheese. Some are saltier than others. You may have to try a few different brands until you find one that suits your taste! (Feta cheese is the one that is always served on a Greek Salad. I have used it on my Cold Mediterranean Plate.)

Tortillas are a Mexican, round, flat, unleavened, bread made of either corn or flour. For this recipe be sure to buy the flour tortillas. They can be found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.


The green onions need to be washed. Then cut off the hairy end.

The white part has a stronger onion flavor than the green part. For this recipe I use the whole thing. Cut the green onions into thirds and line them up.

Now dice them into about 1/8 inch slices.

Put the crumbled feta cheese into a large mixing bowl.

Now add the whipped cream cheese.

And the chopped scallions.

Now all the cranberries.

Mix everything together.

Spread the mixture onto a dinner plate. Divide the mixture into four equal size piles. This way you know you have divided the filling equally and each Cranberry Roll-up will have the same amount of filling.

Using a knife spread ¼ of the mixture onto a 10 inch tortilla. If the filling is difficult to spread, dip your knife into water then try spreading the filling. (You can use the leftover flour tortillas to make Quesadillas!)

It is not necessary to spread the filling right to the very side edges. Those edges will get trimmed away later anyways in order to make perfect rounds.

Tightly roll up the tortilla.

Wrap each tortilla in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. (Or you can make them a day in advance.)

Slice off the ends about 1 inch on each side. (These are the bits that you sample!) Now cut each roll into about 10 slices. (If you cut them too thin they will fall apart.)

Arrange the slices on a serving dish and garnish (decorate) with fresh parsley or leftover green onion. Enjoy!

Source: Taste of Home

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Salmon Quesadillas

print recipe card posted in Lunch by Kathy Maister

Quesadillas are flour tortillas filled with a few savory ingredients. This salmon quesadilla is great for breakfast lunch or dinner!

It also has a bit of elegance and sophistication because of the wonderful combination of ingredients which are:

  • 2 -8 inch flour tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons of herbed cream cheese spread
  • 1 ounce of smoked salmon
  • 2 teaspoons of capers
  • 1/8 teaspoon of dried dill

  • Start with the 8 inch size flour tortillas. The bigger ones are just too difficult to try and flip.
  • Buy your favorite brand of soft herbed cream cheese.
  • One 4 ounce package of smoked salmon will make 4 quesadillas. Salmon is a bit expensive but a small amount goes a long way.
  • An extra sprinkle of dried dill (1/8 teaspoon) is nice but not essential.

The one unusual ingredient is capers. They are sold in a jar and are found in the grocery store near all the condiments. They are packed in a salty brine and should be drained and rinsed. They add a tangy flavor to these quesadillas which goes really well with the salmon.

Spread 1 ½ Tablespoon of the herbed cheese on one flour tortilla. You really don’t want to put too much filling in the quesadillas or they will fall apart when you try to eat them.

Lay the tortilla in a non stick fry pan, cheese side up. Chop one ounce of smoked salmon and sprinkle it on top of the cheese.

Sprinkle the capers on top of the salmon and then add the dried dill. (Left over capers are great on a salad.)

Spread 1 ½ Tablespoons of the herbed cheese on the other tortilla.

Place the tortilla, cheese side down, in the pan. It now looks like a sandwich.

Place the pan on the stove and set it to medium heat. It will take about 1 ½ – 2 minutes for the cheese to melt and the tortilla to get lightly toasted. (If you want you can brush a bit of butter or oil on the grilled side of the tortilla to give it a nicely browned and crispy finish. It’s not really necessary)

Using a spatula, flip the quesadilla and cook that side for about another 1 ½ minutes until is it lightly browned.

Slide the whole thing onto a cutting board.

With a big kitchen knife slice it, the way you would a pizza, in half, then quarters, then 1/8s.


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