I may have the only child in the world who begs for split pea soup as an after-school snack, but I’m not complaining. Yesterday I needed to cook dinner early because we were going out to dinner. To you non-vegetarians, that statement probably makes no sense at all, but the vegetarians and vegans out there will know what I mean. Whenever a vegetarian attends a catered event like an awards dinner, she can never be sure of getting a vegetarian meal, so it’s wise to eat a little something beforehand. I figured split pea soup would make a nice pre-meal insurance policy for D. and me and a great dinner for E., who was staying home.
So when E. got home yesterday, she walked into a house filled with the scent of curry powder and ginger, and she wanted her bowl of soup NOW. Well, you can tell that she’s an only child because I immediately caved and let her have her soup at 3:30 in the afternoon. I couldn’t resist having my soup then too, blowing my plan to eat right before the dinner. (Fortunately, there was indeed a vegetarian plate because by 8 pm I was hungry again.)
This is a soup that smells enticing and tastes divine. It’s not a spicy curry, thanks to the type of curry powder I used. Penzeys’ Maharajah Style Curry Powder is a little on the expensive side, due to the hefty amount of saffron it contains, but it imparts a rich, almost sweet taste to any food you use it in. If you can’t get the Maharajah curry powder, any good-quality mild curry will do, but for a real treat, try the Maharajah. It works particularly well with the sweet potatoes in this delicious soup.
Yellow Split-Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale
You may cook this soup either in a pressure cooker or in a regular pot. You will need to have a pressure cooker that has at least a 7-quart capacity; for smaller cookers, cut the recipe in half or in thirds. Also, if you’re using a jiggle-top pressure cooker, add one teaspoon of oil to prevent foaming.
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon canola oil (necessary for tempering the spices)
- 2 teaspoons ginger paste or 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 cups water
- 3 cups dried yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
- 1-2 tablespoons mild curry powder (to taste)
- Salt to taste (optional)
- 1 bunch kale
- Heat a large pressure cooker or pot and sauté the onions for about 5 minutes. (I do this in a dry pot and add water by the tablespoon if needed to prevent sticking. Adding a pinch of baking soda will make the onions cooker more quickly.) When they are becoming translucent, push them to one side and pour the cumin and mustard seeds directly onto the bottom of the pot. Pour the canola oil over the seeds and stir them lightly. As soon as the seeds begin to pop, mix them in with the onions. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook for one more minute. Add the sweet potatoes, water, split peas and 1 tablespoon curry powder. Stir well.
- If using a pressure cooker, seal the cooker and bring it up to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 8 minutes (10 minutes for electric pressure cooker); then remove from the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
- If you’re cooking it in a regular pot, cover the pot and simmer until the split peas are tender and beginning to break down, about an hour. Stir regularly to make sure that the split peas don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, and add water if necessary.
- While the soup is cooking, wash the kale and remove and discard the tough central rib. Chop the leaves coarsely. When the split peas are cooked, add the kale to the pot, season to taste with salt and additional curry powder, if necessary, and add additional water if the soup is too thick. Cover the pot. For kale that retains some crunch, simply leave the pot covered for 5 or 10 minutes without heating, allowing the kale to cook in the heat of the soup. For kale that is more tender, you may return the pot to low heat (or the warm setting of an electric PC) for 10 minutes.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s) | Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Makes about 8 servings. Per serving (without salt, using 1/4 tsp. oil): 309 Calories (kcal); 2g Total Fat; (4% calories from fat); 20g Protein; 57g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 28mg Sodium; 21g Fiber.