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Straying from the printed recipe still makes me a little twitchy, so I ask you, gentle cooks (chefs?):

Can I safely double the cooking time? (In this case, it's a split pea soup, dried split peas - used 2 lbs instead of 1, and doubled everything else)

On a side note, the pot I picked is somewhat undersized for a double batch, as it turns out. The broth is nearly to the lip of the pot. Other than making sure it doesn't boil over during the simmer phase, is this a bad thing?

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Re the pot size, as long as it doesn't boil over and make a mess, there is no problem with a soup like this going up to the rim. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Feb 2 '11 at 15:58

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Kara, you shouldn't need to adjust the cooking time at all. If the recipe says to bring to a simmer and then cook for 45 minutes, it will probably take longer to come to a simmer, but once it is there, you can leave it for 45 minutes.

The best recipes (in my opinion) will give you a time as a guideline, but the real instruction will be some target like "until 160 degrees" or "until peas begin to break down". If your recipe has that, you can look for those cues at roughly the same time the recipe suggests.

edit: I forgot to mention the pot size issue. It shouldn't be a problem. The two issues you could encounter would be:

  • boiling over
  • temperature variation

The former you're aware of already; the latter issue is that the soup at the top of the pot could be a bit colder than lower down. The two solutions are:

  • use a lid (this keeps the heat in)
  • stir periodically (this keeps both the heat and the peas better distributed)
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Good advice, the only other thing I would add is to pay attention to the recipe if it calls for some particular reduction, or something like 'once it reduces X%'. This might also mean you may need to adjust the hardware/heat you're cooking with. –  mfg Feb 2 '11 at 16:53
    
Quite right, cooking time and temperature are almost never scaled with a recipe, and if they are, it's generally only by a very small amount to compensate for having too small a vessel. –  Aaronut Feb 2 '11 at 16:57
    
@mfg, very good point. It will certainly take longer if attempting to reduce. –  Ray Feb 2 '11 at 17:00
    
@Aaronut, I agree as long as we're talking about soups. If you have a bigger roast, it will definitely take much longer, although the relationship is not linear. Soup is somewhat unique in this respect because (1) the size of pieces of food to be cooked are the same regardless of quantity (2) water conducts the heat quite well, so the soup can cook evenly. –  Ray Feb 2 '11 at 17:04
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Cuts of meat are a different beast altogether; in those cases you have to be able to understand which measurements are tied to volume and which are tied to surface area. But you really should be cooking meat with a thermometer anyway - cooking times are rough guidelines to begin with. –  Aaronut Feb 2 '11 at 17:33

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