Most of the estate sales I go to are pretty predictable — a Duncan Phyfe dining room table, some midcentury furniture, cut glass, silverplate, bad artwork, needlepoint, rooms full of Christmas ornaments and decorations, piles of linens, abandoned toys, and unfinished crafts.  But occasionally I run across something truly bizarre, like say, a backyard full of dismembered mannequins.

mannequins2 mannequins4

I’m not talking just one or two mannequins, but dozens of naked, maimed mannequins:

mannequins3As I stood there surveying the mannequin massacre, trying to wrap my head around it, all I could think was that I had to take a picture to show my husband.  As I was snapping the pictures, however, I saw people looking at me, and started to worry that they might think I was weird.  And then I thought, “I’m surrounded by piles of mutilated mannequins, and I’m worried that someone might think I forgot to take my meds?”  Reality check!

I have no idea how those mannequins met their demise or why they were cavalierly tossed in the backyard.  Isn’t that what dumpsters are for?  The scene brought to mind an old Saturday Night Live skit with Dennis Hopper, involving a party with inflatable dolls, and he had a fit because someone “popped his girl.”  Or the Jonestown mass suicide.  Anyway, I’ve since revised my will to include instructions that any dismembered mannequins of mine be discarded before my children expose the contents of my home to complete strangers in the hopes of making a few dollars.

The mannequins weren’t the only disturbing thing in this backyard.  Check out the pool:


See it back there, in all its brilliant pea green glory?  I’m guessing the pool guy took one look at the mannequins, realized life was too short to mess with it, and hightailed it out of there.



Looking at the pool (1) makes me want to take antibiotics, and (2) makes me think of split pea soup (sorry — can’t help it).  I’ve been feeling crummy this past week with the flu or allergies or both, and we’re about to get yet another cold front, so inspired by the discarded mannequins lounging around the pea green pool, I made a big pot of Split Pea and Ham Soup.  The recipe is adapted from the one in The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (my Silver Palate heroines).  It is a comforting, familiar soup, with an interesting twist from the sherry and tarragon.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Recipe type: Soup
  • 1 pound dried green split peas
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ cup diced smoked ham
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided use
  • ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 cup diced peeled carrots
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Rinse the split peas in a strainer, then combine them with the stock and water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, and add the ham, celery, 1 tablespoon parsley, and tarragon. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, onion, and leek, and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Add the sherry and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper, and heat through. Serve hot.



 Not for dummies!

6 thoughts on “SPLIT PEA AND HAM SOUP

  1. Pingback: WTF (WATERMELON, TOMATO, AND FETA) SALAD | Tag Sale Tastes

  2. Brilliant! I took one look at the pool and thought, “split pea soup.” I have to go take some antibiotics now and scrub my fingernails.

  3. Well, I may be jumping to conclusions but I am suspicious that these might have even been either naughty lingerie or sex shop mannequins in a former life since they were so anatomically correct with nipples and all. It does kind of look like a scene out of Blue Velvet.

    Sorry to say that my pineapple cake recipe isn’t flourless, just a big fat omission. What worse is that I also left out the baking soda. My own meds must have been kicking in when I typed that recipe. So glad you noticed it.

  4. Jenny, you could definitely omit the tarragon and sherry — in fact, I almost wrote (optional) next to those ingredients. I’d probably be generous with the salt and pepper, though The original called for 4 tablespoons of butter, but it is great without it, so I figure, skip the fat and calories.

  5. This recipe looks so good! I’m going to have to try it, for sure. Just wondering if it would still be good without sherry or tarragon. I’m not a fan of either. Think I need to substitute or just go with the more minimalist revised version?

    BTW, I think you may have been at the estate sale of a serial killer. Mutilated mannies and a mosquito breeding ground? You are much braver than me! Keep up the good work.

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