It’s cold again with temperatures down at 14ºC, which is not that bad for May if it weren’t soaking wet too. It’s been pouring down since the morning and the skies are still heavy with bags of rain. Time for a bowl of warm, reassuring soup perhaps? Let’s cook it up!
Before we start checking for the ingredients, it’s important to say a few words about párky (pronounced as paarki). It’s a Slovak name for thin pork sausages similar to frankfurters or chipolatas. I have also eaten a British, Irish, Belgian or Swiss version of the sausage, so my guess is they will be available in some form all around the world. After all, they are an indispensable ingredient for Hot Dogs, aren’t they?
The Slovaks like to eat their párky for breakfast, or as a light evening meal. They are quick and easy to prepare – all we do is to boil the sausages for about 5 minutes, and serve them hot with mustard and fresh bread.
As my son is a great fan of paarki, I often have some in the fridge. They come in different lengths ranging from mini-sausages through regular to long ones. The colour can vary from pale pink to dark brown depending on the meat and spices used. A cheesy variety was introduced a few years ago, and recently I have also seen paarki spiced up with bear garlic – a herb that’s becoming so popular in modern cooking.
For my pea soup, I used long paarki bought at the fresh meat counter of a local supermarket. If you want to go vegetarian though, you can always leave the sausages out.
Since I first made my Bear Garlic Soup, I’ve had a regular supply of bear garlic from my friend’s garden up in the hills. She says, however, this is probably the last batch, as the plant is supposed to start flowering any time now, which is when the leaves lose their punch and characteristic flavour.
The Internet tells me that dry yellow peas are commonly used in many world cuisines, so they should be easy to buy wherever you live. We in Slovakia are fortunate enough to grow and use our own peas which, along with other legumes like beans, chickpeas and lentils, have been a vital part of our cooking since time immemorial.
Yellow Pea Soup with Paarki
- 250 g dry yellow peas
- 4 large potatoes
- 2 l water
- 1 handful bear garlic or 3 cloves regular garlic
- 3 bay leaves
- white pepper, ground
- pork lard or oil for frying
- paarki or other thin sausages
- Wash the dry peas and strain them in a sieve. Transfer to a large cooking pot and pour in the water. Stir well and bring to the boil, but be careful to watch the peas closely, as they will form quite a lot of foam when they come to the boil. Turn down the heat and take the foam off with a spoon. Stir well and continue cooking over a medium low heat for an hour.
- Rinse the bear garlic leaves or peel the regular garlic. Chop the greens or crush the garlic cloves.
- Peel and wash the potatoes. When the peas are cooked and tender, add the potatoes to them and increase the heat. Stir well and watch until the soup comes to the boil again to prevent overflowing. Adjust the heat, add the bay leaf and the chopped bear garlic or crushed garlic cloves. Season to taste with salt and ground white pepper. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, slice the sausages and fry them in a pan with a tablespoon of pork lard or oil until brown and crispy.
- Just before taking the soup off the heat, add the chopped bear garlic leaves or other spicy herbs. Stir well and serve immediately with or without bread.