Monday, November 29, 2010

Meatless Monday: Split Pea Soup


I didn't think to make veg split-pea soup because ... the regular stuff's a bit gross. Most of the versions I've had all looked like muck (or possibly slime), with a consistency to match their appearance. They also tasted like nothing at all other than ham, so taking the ham out of them would've left you with under-seasoned bean slurry.

The version at 101 Cookbooks is really different. The lemon makes it light, the smoked pepper brings in meaty depth and the olive oil adds richness. The spinach is optional but makes it into a rounded meal and turns it a fantastic shade of green. It's really cheap and satisfyingly healthy. The only thing I think it needs is more of all the extras; it shouldn't be bland. You can build the seasonings gradually you're not sure. (The mint is my bag, but if it's not yours then never you mind it.)

Don't cook the hell out of the onion or the peas; you can't un-mush. If the finished product looks like paste, add more stock or water 'til it's the consistency you like. Keep the spinach together to more easily blend it. Chop the zest as finely as you can to keep the texture consistent.

  • a glug of good olive oil, with a bit extra to drizzle
  • a few teaspoons smoked paprika or ground chipotle
  • a pinch dried mint (optional)
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1-2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
  • 2 cups dried split green peas
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 veggie bouillon cubes - (or, if you don't care, Mexican chicken and tomato bouillon! It's awesome stuff)
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested, zest finely chopped
  • a couple of handfuls fresh spinach
  • Sort through the lentils and pick out the gravel. 
  • Throw the oil in a big pot over med-high heat. 
  • Add the chipotle, salt and mint and let them cook for a minute. 
  • Stir in onions for a few minutes until they're soft and clear, but not browned. 
  • Add the split peas and water. 
  • Bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are cooked but al dente. 
    • During the last few minutes of cooking, throw in the spinach, put a lid on the pot and let the leaves wilt (don't stir the spinach in if you can help it; you'll have to fish it out). 
  • Using a large cup or mug ladle half of the soup into a bowl, leaving the spinach, and set aside. 
  • Puree the soup that is still remaining in the pot with a blender 'til no strings of spinach remain.
  • Throw the reserved, still chunky, soup back into the puree. 
  • If you need to thin the soup out with more water (or stock) do so a bit at a time. 
  • Stir in the lemon juice and zest 
  • Taste. If the soup needs more salt, chipotle or lemon, add until the flavor is bright and strong.
Pour into bowls and top with a ribbon of olive oil and a few grinds black pepper. I like mine with garlic rubbed toast and a heavy beer.

Serves 5. Freezes quite well.

1 comment:

Denise said...

This is wonderful! I used about 7 cups of assorted stocks I had on hand--chicken, turkey, and mushroom.

I must be using some crazy hardy Northern split peas because it took about 50 min to cook them til al dente.

Very tasty! And the color is deep green, not a sickly yellow green. I used red onions, and thought that would really screw up the color, but it didn't! The paprika is genius.