Chatting with a woman in the grocery store line-up today, and she mentioned that she picked up a ham hock to make split pea soup. Instantly, I was transported back in time, across the country, and to the split pea soup of my childhood. That soup was salty with ham, thick enough to float bricks on, and could line a stomach for days upon days.
This version is a lot lighter, with more flavours than just salt, and not quite the digestive system staying power. And, it’s featured on the menu of the Constellation’s fine dining restaurant, Aquarius.
Curried Split Pea Soup
1 1/ 2 cups of uncooked yellow split peas
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium yellow onions, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups of vegetable stock
3 tablespoons mild Indian curry paste
1 (14oz) can light coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 /2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 /2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 /2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Fill a large pot with water, add peas and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until peas are very soft, about one hour. Top up the pot with water as required during the cooking process. Drain peas and set aside.
In the pot, heat canola oil. Add onions, garlic and carrots, and cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened but not browned. Return peas to pot, and add stock and curry paste.
Using an immersion blender or food processer, puree the soup until smooth. This one doesn’t have to be super smooth, a little coarseness will add texture.
Bring the pureed soup back to the boil and add coconut milk, salt, pepper, cumin, and turmeric. Let simmer another ten minutes, then stir in cilantro. Let simmer another 10 minutes before serving with papadum or naan bread.
This soup is one of those that lends itself well to experimentation–don’t like curry? Don’t use it! Replace the coconut milk with vegetable stock, and add a teaspoon or two of a good quality pesto, or chopped fresh herbs of your choice.
For a zingy hot version, substitute the mild curry paste for a fiery Thai red or green curry, garnish with a cooling dollop of plain yogurt or kefir.
Turn it into a meal by adding cooked chicken, or pour the hot soup over very thinly sliced salmon pre-placed in the bottom of the bowl. The heat will cook the salmon.