I should probably have joined a gym by now, two weeks into the new year. Danny has taken up swimming for days when he's not running or playing tennis. You're more likely to find my enthusiasm for health on the food side of things. Yes, even the salads and everything else green that magazines are presenting to you this month. Honestly, it's what I crave. Keep any stray holiday cookies to yourself.
With my new daily planner finally picked out, I was ready to make the first soup of the year. This one comes from Ina Garten's latest cookbook, which was one of many cookbook gifts we gratefully received this season. Her book of "foolproof" recipes is filled with splendid-looking food, but her gloriously green soup caught my eye.
This Spanish Pea Soup With Crispy Ham doesn't ask much of you, which is considerate at a time when we've got resolutions to contemplate and routines to return to. The ingredients are few and they're staples of the kitchen. We're talking shallots, garlic, stock and frozen peas.
The soup is bright, simple and as foolproof as Ina promises. Don't underestimate how good it will be just because it comes together so quickly.
A big slice of crispy prosciutto in the middle of each bowl of electric green instantly makes this soup impressive, and the crispy ham tastes like bacon. Pig and peas (and legumes) always play well together. Treat yourself to some good prosciutto or Serrano ham for this one.
And when it comes to crispy ham, always make extra. Danny stole a piece or two of the crispy prosciutto before the soup was even served. Learn from my mistake.
What makes this pea soup so perfect for this time of year is that it's hot and comforting, but it's also green and nourishing at a time when you may miss summer's generous produce. If it's truly cold where you are, I bet this will taste even better. You'll think it's spring.
Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with her boyfriend, Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.