Get your stockpots ready, everyone: It’s National Split Pea Soup week!
(And to think you almost missed it.)
The brainchild of the Northern Pulse Growers Association, National Split Pea Soup Week is celebrated the second week of November, when the nip in the air makes a hearty bowl of soup sound just about like heaven.
Of course, my mother will find it deeply ironic that I’m celebrating peas. Because as a kid, I hated them—and I mean hated them! In fact, the only way I would even consider eating peas was if they were “creamed.” Translation: drowning in a sauce made of butter, sugar, flour, and, well, pea juice. (It sounds gross, but it actually tasted pretty good.)
Fast forward 25 years. That persnickety little girl has become a woman whose diet (at least on a good day) centers around vegetables, and peas play a central role! (No one’s more surprised than I am, trust me.) I keep a bag of crisp freeze-dried peas in my bag for quick snacks, since peas have a satisfying balance of protein and carbs. What’s more, one of my favorite meals is filling, diet-friendly split pea soup. No, not the kind with ham—I prefer plant-powered split pea soups, like those featured in Bravo! and the Health Promoting Cookbook. (Both of which I highly recommend.) In fact, until I developed this vegetarian split pea soup, I alternated between those two recipes, making them in bulk and freezing them in wide-mouth jars with plastic lids.
Secret ingredient for sensational split pea soup
For National Split Pea Soup week, though, I wanted to create something a little more special. An outside-the-box split pea soup with unexpected ingredients that layer together to create a soup you’ll want to make over and over again.
So I drew not only from my favorite split pea soup recipes, but also Alton Brown’s recipe to make a completely vegan curried split pea soup. That’s right: No meat or milk in sight! But don’t think for a second that it’s lacking in flavor: Replete with yellow split peas, golden corn, garnet sweet potatoes, and just the right amount of curry powder, this soup is mellow and delicious. And what about the secret ingredient, you ask? Why, it’s chopped dried apricot, which adds a bright, sunny note to this super soup. (Which, incidentally, has a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving, making it one satisfying supper.)
- 2 c chopped onions (1 medium onion)
- 8 c water (do NOT use vegetable broth, as the salt will increase the peas’ cook time)
- 1½ c yellow split peas (I used Goya brand)
- ½ tsp granulated garlic
- 1 Tbsp + ½ tsp curry powder
- 2 c frozen corn, thawed
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” cubes (about 4 c of cubes)
- 8 dried apricots, chopped (2 oz)
- Salt to taste, if desired. (I don’t use any.)
- Pick over and rinse split peas. Set aside.
- Sweat chopped onion in a large, dry pot over medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir frequently, especially towards the end, to prevent sticking.
- Add water, peas, garlic, and curry powder, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Add sweet potatoes and corn and return to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for another 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add chopped dried apricots and simmer 5 more minutes, or until split peas and sweet potatoes are tender.
- Remove from heat and season lightly with salt, if desired. Puree right in the pot using an immersion (stick) blender. (Add up to ½ c water if you like a thinner consistency.) You can also cool and puree (carefully!) in batches in a blender, filling the blender no more than halfway each time.
- Garnish with cracked black pepper, fresh cilantro, and enjoy! I recommend serving with a thick wedge of homemade buckwheat bread and (of course!) a salad.