By Jude Teal

Slow-cooked Sierra Split Pea Soup

Servings: 8

Preparation time: 8 to 10

1 16-ounce package split peas

2 quarts water

1 cup sliced celery, including tops

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced red onion

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 cup extra lean ham

Combine all ingredients except diced ham into crock pot. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours until split peas are tender. Add ham to crockpot a few minutes before serving.

Can also be cooked on low for 8 to 10 hours.

For most of us, the busiest time of the year is approaching.

With decorating, shopping for gifts (and wrapping them), attending parties and maybe having a party or two ourselves, everyday cooking can be overwhelming.

Fortunately we live in a time when kitchen technology can help.

It used to be that in winter, when everyone seems to want soups and stews, the home cook had to spend lots of time in the kitchen. With the invention of the slow cooker (aka Crockpot), although actual cooking time became a lot longer, the cook isn’t required to be there. Just do the recipe prep and plug it in. This allows us to make large amounts of soups and stews that can be frozen for several meals. Giving the cook more time to shop and party — that works for me!

Jude Teal is a former chef, consultant and caterer from Silicon Valley. Using her Cordon Bleu background she creates healthy recipes that still taste delicious. Email her at foodbyjude@me.com if you have questions about recipes.

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