When my family first moved to Nova Scotia from Québec 28 years ago, my mom had a hard time finding yellow dry peas to make her traditional soupe aux pois (Québec pea soup). It was at Salt Spring Seeds, all the way on the other side of the country, where she ended up finding the perfect yellow pea to grow in her garden for the beloved soupe aux pois.
She delighted in growing the dry pea every bit as much as the tender green snap peas that she would eat like candy off the plant while listening to the birds in her garden. Because as any Québecois knows, soupe aux pois is a sacred thing: simple, filling, hearty.
After my mom passed away, my stepdad continued growing out many of the peas and beans she had carefully grown and saved year after year. And I did the same with some of those varieties that I remember her praising: Ethiopian lentils, Salt Lake Beans, and especially the cherished Darlaine pea. Last year, I finally had a harvest large enough to make a hearty pot of soup, and it was an occasion worthy of capturing on video. A moment of celebration, a nod to my mom and the knowledge and treasures she has passed on. (I can always hear her giggling with delight and mischief when she was harvesting something that she was about to turn into a delicious dish).
A couple weeks ago, I wrote to Dan Jason at Salt Spring Seeds and asked him for more information about the Darlaine pea. I was surprised when he said that after all these years, he remembered my mom's name very well from her seed orders, because he said that she had the most beautiful-sounding name. I found it moving that he remembered her even though he had never met her. If she had ordered her seeds from a larger seed company, that would have been unlikely to happen.
I thanked Dan for bringing the Darlaine pea and so many other beautiful heirloom seeds into my mom's garden and into our lives, even years after she died. It has created a special sense of continuity and connection that repeats itself year after year, in each plant and pea pod and bowl of soup.
You'll find my mom's recipe on my post over at PBS Food.