You might think that I plan all my dinners in advance, but the truth is I rarely decide what I’m going to cook until 5 minutes before I start. I like to keep my options open, so I keep a fairly well-stocked pantry and adapt recipes when I don’t have the exact ingredients.
I mention this because last night I was coming into the kitchen to prepare a couple of Ethiopian dishes when my daughter said, “Will you cook split pea soup? I want to have it in my thermos for lunch tomorrow.” Since I’m always happy when she takes something other than a sandwich for lunch, I quickly changed courses. Besides, split pea soup is so quick and easy to make in the pressure cooker. (Subject for another day: If you don’t have a PC, run out and buy one now!)
There are as many variations on split pea soup as there are cooks, and Curried Split Pea Soup is one of my three favorites. I think that steamed cauliflower goes well with split pea soup; in fact, I always wind up dipping my cauliflower into the soup. Last night I decided to streamline the cooking/dipping process and just cook the cauliflower in the soup, so this is what I did:
- 1 teaspoon each whole cumin, fennel, and black mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
- 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
- 3 large carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 6 cups boiling water
- 2 cups dried green or yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
- 1-2 tablespoons mild curry powder (to taste)
- Salt to taste (optional)
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cauliflower, chopped
- Spray the bottom of the pressure cooker with a quick spray of oil, or add just a few drops, and begin heating it. (You can try toasting the spices without oil, but they burn quickly.) Add the cumin, fennel, and black mustard seeds over medium-high heat and toast them for about 10 seconds (they may or may not begin to pop). Stir in the ginger, garlic, and onions and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another minute. Add the carrots, boiling water (stand back to avoid sputtering), split peas (I like yellow in this), and curry powder. Stir well to be sure that no bits of onion or spices have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 8 minutes. (Electric PC users, just set the high pressure setting to 8 minutes.) Remove from heat or turn PC off. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for about 10 minutes, then quick-release the pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. Check the peas, and if they are not soft, return to high pressure for a couple of minutes or until they are uniformly tender (older peas may take longer to cook).
- Add the chopped cauliflower, replace the lid, and heat over low heat until the cauliflower is just cooked, about 10 minutes. This also works with frozen chopped cauliflower (no need to thaw first). Stir in salt. (If no salt is desired, try stirring in fresh lemon juice a tablespoon at a time until the flavor is to your liking.) If the soup is too thick, thin it with water or stock.
There you go–soup and a vegetable all in one!
Next up: the incredibly red salad I served with this….