What to cook now: classic split-pea soup and baby kale-sweet potato salad

Even if you're among those who sort of wish kale had not taken over the world, there's a good chance you'll love this salad, which stars tender, earthy-yet-eminently-palatable baby kale. I tossed it together on a whim last winter, as I thought the ingredients – which sounded so nice together (baby kale, roasted sweet potato, toasted pecans and pomegranates) – would also look gorgeous together and taste great together.

They did! It was a huge hit, and I've made it many times since, including last night – when it seemed just the thing with simple, classic split pea soup – which I've been craving since autumn started to really kick in here in North Texas.

On weekends in fall and winter, I often roast two or three sweet potatoes (garnets are my faves) in case of sudden salad urges like this. They're also great, reheated in the office microwave, for a luscious, satisfying (and super-healthy) desk lunch. 

Autumn weekends are also a great time to simmer up a big pot of soup. Thierry's absolute favorite is my simple, classic split-pea soup, which you can almost make with your eyes closed (it's that easy).

All that's required is chopping an onion, slicing a few carrots, giving them a sweat in olive oil, adding split peas, water and a ham hock or smoked pork shank, and let it simmer and fill your living space with enticing aromas. It couldn't be easier or more delicious. The creamy, velvety texture is achieved just by the long simmer. Pull out the pork, cut or shred it up, put it back in and you're good to go.  Make it this weekend, and serve it all week.

Or invite friends over to be soothed by it at an election-watching party. Some crusty bread and sweet butter (dark rye or pumpernickle is great with it), a couple of cheeses – definitely some wine – and  you'll be ready for, well, anything.