If you leave a continuous stream of steps behind, after a dark sottoportico the road stretches silently. Just a little further, in a small courtyard, there is an old door – like many others in Venice – with a set of brass bells at the side.
Inside, on the upper floor, the rooms are well divided, like they always are in the noblest palaces: a wide entrance at the centre and well distributed rooms at the two main sides.
The shape of furniture has left its mark on the brightly colored walls – Pompeian red and dark viridian to reclaim nobility – as if someone traced it to remember it. But the apartment is empty: only a wooden table – bright green, as well – has remained in the small kitchen. It was surely left there because it was not so precious.
It was built with poor wood, its top has rounded corners, its legs are slightly shaped and it has a small drawer with a knob. Its color is green, perhaps a bit too bright. “It is spezzati green!” promptly sentenced Luciano, an old time Venetian, caressing its surface with his hand. We all know what he meant, as any proud Venetian would.
The split pea (spezzati) soup – a very popular, healthy and easy to make Venetian dish which everyone has come across with at least once – has ended up defining the name of an unmistakable shade of green, amongst many others.
Since then the table has been patiently sanded and brought to milder shades, in order to match the kitchen colors.
Years later it witnessed the best it could have, if it had remained alive as a tree: old friends coming from far away, with their stories and kind gifts, perfumed wines, delicious cakes… spezzati soups kindling memories of how we once were, including the table.
This small table is still with me: the kitchens have changed as we moved from one house to the other, the footprints of many years have not made it look older and its value is no longer that of a poor wood table.
It makes me feel at home, just like this soup.
- 280 g split peas
- 1 potato
- 1 carrot
- 1 small white onion
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 bunch of fresh parsley
- 1 bunch of fresh sage
- 2 laurel leaves
- 1 tsp green curry paste (thai food)
- 1 litre and 200 ml of water
- 1 tbs extravirgin olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- Rinse and drain the split peas – no need to soak them before – then put them aside.
- Peel the potato, the carrot and the onion. Wash them well together with the other vegetables.
- Cut everything into thin slices and put them in a high-sided pot with the lid on.
- Add the split peas and the laurel leaves, then cover with 1 litre and 200 ml of cold water.
- Bring to the boil and cook at medium heat, with the lid on, for 45 minutes, until the peas start mashing. Add salt.
- Take the soup away from the heat and pour it in a vegetable mill with small holes to obtain a dense cream.
- Dilute the green curry paste with 1 teaspoon of warm water and add it to the soup.
- Put it back on the stove and cook it for 10 minutes more at low heat, without the lid on.
- Wash the sage and dry it very well. Cut the leaves into small squares by using scissors.
- Heat the oil in a small non-stick pan and pour the small squares of sage. Brown them for a few minutes until they become crispy. Take them out of the oil and lay them on a plate – with some paper on it – to let them dry.
- Garnish the split pea soup with crispy sage and serve hot.