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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: A tasty lickety-split pea soup

Thursday, March 29, 2001

Tested by Rebecca Sodergren

Len and Margaret Walnoha like to make split pea soup the old-fashioned way -- by soaking the peas and cooking them for several hours. But one day, Len was hungry for pea soup and didn't want to take the time to make it, so he decided to try canned peas instead.

Now he's a Countdown to Dinner winner.

We have to admit that we were a little skeptical when we tested this recipe -- our favorite soup is split pea (the real thing). But we discovered that this variation, which is sweeter than regular split pea soup, can be a tasty substitute on a busy day.

We missed the 30-minute Countdown deadline, but only because we chopped all the vegetables before assembling the soup. You could make the deadline by pureeing the peas first, dumping them in the pot, turning on the burner and then adding the veggies as you chop them. Start with the carrots because they'll take the longest to cook.

The Walnohas, of Cuddy, which is in the South Fayette area, have four children, and Len has two older sons from a previous marriage as well. He has five grandchildren.

Len is a retired maintenance group leader from General Electric, and his wife is a retired postal worker.

When we called, Len was making homemade salami. He fishes and hunts, and the couple then cooks the fish or game he brings home.

They also enjoy traveling. They took a trip to Costa Rica in February, and this summer, Len and one of his sons plan to go salmon fishing in Alaska.

Take note, Len: If you submit a nice salmon recipe, we'll be more than happy to test it.

Easy Pea Soup

2 15-ounce cans peas
1 cup water
1 cup diced ham
1/2 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 bay leaf
Salt, pepper and thyme to taste (optional)

Place peas with liquid and 1 cup water in blender to puree, about 30 seconds. Transfer to pot and add ham, carrots, onions, celery and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Halfway through cooking, add seasonings to taste.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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