Split Pea Soup

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Split peas are a dried field pea, related to the familiar garden pea, though not as sweet as the fresh variety.

They can be green or yellow and can be cooked in the same way as lentils. Full of protein and fiber, they break down easily during cooking which makes them ideal for making thick hearty soups.

Green pea soup is traditionally made with a ham bone broth and served with pieces of shredded ham.

Here are two vegetarian versions which are made from the same basic recipe and varied by the herbs and spices according to your taste. Like any soup, the quality and flavour will depend on a good stock.*

Ingredients

Version 1

  • 200g organic green split peas
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 or 2 leeks, rinsed and sliced, (tough upper ends used in stock)
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1-litre vegetable stock (approx.) * see below
  • 1 tbsp. organic vegetable oil (olive or rapeseed)
  • large sprig of rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 100g frozen garden peas (optional)
  • chives and feta crumbs to garnish (optional)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Version 2

Same as above except:

  • a teaspoonful of caraway seeds (omit rosemary)
  • 2 chopped green chillies
  • a few tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves before blending.
  • minted yoghurt
  • a drizzle of red chilli oil

Method

Version 1

  1. Sauté the onions in the oil in a large soup pan until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the leeks, carrots, garlic and cook gently for another few minutes, stirring occasionally to cook evenly.
  3. Add the peas, potato, rosemary, bay and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer slowly on a medium heat, stirring now and then to prevent it sticking on the bottom, for about 45 minutes. The peas should be soft and dissolving into the broth.
  4. Remove the rosemary and bay leaf before adding the frozen peas, if using. (The addition of frozen peas will add flavour and intensify the colour).
  5. Season to taste, remove from the heat and blend with a stick blender or pulse for a few seconds in a processor.
  6. Garnish the soup with snipped chives, feta cheese crumbs and basil oil pesto.

*The cooking time can be sped up by soaking them for an hour or so but this is not necessary.

Version 2

The second version of this pea soup has an Indian styled spicing.
When sautéing the vegetables at the beginning just add a teaspoonful of caraway seeds and 2 chopped green chillies.

Omit the rosemary and add a few tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves before blending. This version can be garnished with minted yoghurt and fresh coriander leaves or a drizzle of red chilli oil.

Nutrition

A basic stock* can be made by simmering a variety of carrots, celery, onion and bay leaf in 2 liters of water. Parsley or coriander stalks can be included. For this soup I used the tougher green ends of the leeks in the stock and kept the lower two thirds for the main soup mix.

Fennel, garlic, veggie skins etc. can also be added for a flavoursome broth. Brassicas, however, are not recommended for stocks.

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