Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lillian Darcy's Winter Soup

If you're looking for great books to curl up with and lose yourself in for a few hours, then try Lillian Darcy. This Australian writer gets right to the heart of the matter, and has a wonderful new release, Cafe du Jour, with Mira, in Australia. For American readers, you can order her books through Harlequin Australia, and read her backlist. And on to a great soup recipe (it happens to be one of my favorites, too, Lillian, and my husband is also not a fan. What's wrong with these men? When I come to your side of the world, we'll have to share a bowl! :-)

Thanks for inviting me to do a guest spot on your blog, Shirley.

And, Other Shirley (Hailstock), I can’t promise I’ll make your son the kind of tea he likes, but I do make a proper cup in the English style, with loose leaves in a pre-warmed teapot, using water right at the boil. Why am I possibly going to make tea for Shirley’s son? Because I’m in Canberra, where he is studying, and I’ve promised to look after him if he needs a home-cooked meal. We also have a pretty nice open fire for those cold Canberra winter nights.

So in contrast to Shirley J’s other guest bloggers who are probably mostly planning cool summer recipes, I’m going to have to give you one for soup, because right now with the fog still swirling outside and my heater chugging away and not quite reaching me from the opposite side of the room, I can’t think about cool salads and chilled desserts!

This is my all-time favorite winter soup recipe. My husband hates it, sadly, so I try to cook it when he’s out of the house. In defense of my cooking skills and my soup, he’s from an Italian background, and I get the impression Italians just don’t do Split Pea and Ham.


3 – 4 cups of dried yellow split peas
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, sliced
2 – 3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 cup of chopped bacon or ham
Beef stock cubes or powder, to taste

In a large pot of boiling water, cook all ingredients for two hours, or until all the split peas have broken up. Quantities of ingredients are flexible, depending on how you like it. The more split peas you use, the thicker the soup will be. And if you have a ham bone you can use to make the stock, instead of cubes or powder… yum!

Shirley uses recipes so wonderfully in her books. My novel “CafĂ© du Jour” – out in Australia in August, and available through – is, unsurprisingly, more about coffee. What do you do when the espresso machine of life just keeps hitting you with cup after cup of bad caffeine?

Well, it happens to all of us at some point, doesn’t it? We react differently, depending on who we are and what else is going on. Sometimes we pretend everything is fine, we cling to unrealistic hopes, we make decisions too soon, we refuse to let go or see what’s happening right in front of our eyes. But eventually, slowly, one sip at a time, we get on with life. How does Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous serenity prayer go? “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” In many ways, that’s what the book is about, with humor and quirkiness and happy endings thrown into the mix.

I think it’s interesting that a few of us are writing books built around tea or coffee or food or recipes. It’s a home-and-hearth thing, a way of making the heroine’s journey something we can actually taste. I’m looking forward to tasting… er, reading… more of your books, Shirley - I’m still dreaming of cheese after the recipes in “Pretty Bad.”

Lilian Darcy

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lillian,

    This is the other Shirley (Hailstock). We had a cold spell her in the Northeastern part of the US and split pea and ham soup sounds very comforting with the temperature in the 50's (And it's August!).

    During the cold weather, when I'm cooped in the house, I like to make cinnamon rolls. It gives the house that warm, homey feel and the sugar wafting in the air is wonderful.

    So when the temperature dipped, I made cinnamon rolls. It's not an original recipe, but oh are they good; gooey with lots of icing. Joined with a cup of hot coffee or tea, it's nearly heaven.

    Thanks for taking care of my son.



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