Pulse vegetables with an outer shell require soaking in cold water for approximately twelve hours before cooking; they are then washed in cold water in preparation for cooking. Those pulse vegetables such as split green peas and lentils with no outer shell do not require soaking before cooking as it may make them difficult to cook through.
Where the basic soup has a distinctive flavor as in the case of pulse vegetables (and certain fresh vegetables such as carrots and mixed vegetables), water may be used in place of stock. Water is considered by some to be preferable to stock for all vegetable soups as meat and poultry stock may distort the natural flavor of the vegetables.
The name of the soup is determined by the type of pulse vegetable used. In all cases the basic method is the same. For example:
Purée of Yellow Split Peas — Purée Egyptienne
Purée of Green Split Peas — Purée St Germain (or Potage St Germain).
Purée of White Haricot Beans — Purée Soissonaise (or Potage Soissonaise)
Makes: 2 litres. Cooking time: 2 hours.
— 600 grams pulse vegetables
— 3 liters white stock or water
— 1 whole carrot
— 1 whole onion
— 150 bacon trimmings or ham bone
— bouquet garni
— seasoning of salt and pepper
— 100 diced bread croutons
(1) Wash the pulse vegetable. (If it is one with an outer shell it should have previously been soaked in cold water.)
(2) Cover with stock or water.
(3) Bring to the boil and skim.
(4) Add the remainder of the ingredients and allow to simmer. The soup may be cooked in an oven with a lid on to ensure even cooking.
(5) When cooked, remove whole vegetables, bouquet garni and ham bone and discard.
(6) Purée the soup, reboil, season to taste and correct the consistency as necessary.
(1) If the liquid from cooking a ham is used then not more than a quarter of the total liquid content should consist of this, the remainder should be made up with water.
(2) Do not season a pulse soup that contains ham bones or ham liquid until it is nearly cooked.
(3) To test if cooked remove some of the pulse with a perforated spoon and rub between the fingers to a smooth paste. If it is slightly gritty it requires further cooking.
(4) Tomato purée may be added to purées made of lentils.
May be served in a soup tureen or soup plate. Croûtons or sippets are served separately in a sauceboat.
Assessment of completed purée
(1) The soup should be hot.
(2) The colour should be that naturally produced by the peas. This may differ according to the quality of the peas and therefore need not be altered.
(3) The texture should be fine yet not too smooth.
(4) The flavour should be a mixture of peas with a slight hint of ham.
(5) The consistency should be slightly thicker than other types of soups such as creams and veloutés and cover the back of a spoon.
(6) A standard portion should be approximately 2 dl per person.
(7) The croûtons or sippets should be neatly cut and an even golden colour. If fried (as in the case of croûtons) there should be na trace of fat.
Possible problems, causes and solution:
(1) Soup has a gritty texture:
— pulse was puréed before it was properly cooked (a very common fault); return the soup to the saucepan for further cooking. The addition of a small amount of cooking soda will help rectify this problem.
— pulse with outer shells not soaked prior to cooking; return the soup to the saucepan for further cooking. The addition of a small amount of cooking soda will help rectify this problem.
— liquid lost during cooking through absorption and evaporation not replaced so that some of the pulse, especially in the corners of the pan, does not cook thoroughly; return the soup to the saucepan for further cooking. The addition of a small amount of cooking soda will help rectify this problem.
(2) Soup lacks flavor:
— lack of seasoning; add more seasoning to bring out the flavor of the pulse.
— poor quality raw pulse; avoid using pulse that has been held in storage for prolonged periods as this cannot later be rectified.
— ham bone or liquid from cooking a ham not included; care must be taken to include all the ingredients as this cannot be rectified later.
— pulse not sufficiently cooked; return the soup to the saucepan for further cooking. The addition of a small amount of cooking soda will help rectify this problem.
— too much liquid used; care must be taken to avoid using too much liquid as this cannot be rectified later.
(3) Soup lacks volume:
— ingredients have been under-cooked; if the residue has not been discarded return it to the pan for further cooking.
— soup has been poorly puréed; if the residue has not been discarded re-purée the soup.