You may recognize the photo above. I first posted about this Southwestern split-pea soup over a year ago, but at the time I was having trouble with the timing of the recipe, so I kept it to myself. Since then, I’ve made it several times, never the same way twice, and it’s always come out delicious. Most recently I cooked it for a potluck lunch and had to substitute for two ingredients I was missing and actually burned the bottom of the pan. But since several people tracked me down to rave about the soup, I figure that this recipe is practically fool-proof. Well, it’s proof against this fool, at least!
I’d waited until the last minute to make my potluck dish, figuring I could throw this soup together quickly in the pressure cooker. Then I ran into a big problem: no yellow split peas. But I had some chana dal–a split relative of the chickpea–and decided to use them instead. From my experience, they take a little longer to cook, so I started them in the pressure cooker and added a couple of minutes to the timer.
While the beans were cooking, I began assembling the other ingredients only to find that the tomato paste I usually use in the recipe was also missing from my cabinet. So I quickly decided to substitute a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, the kind that is made by Rotel. I have to say that I thought the soup tasted even better with the tomatoes, so that substitution was actually an improvement. And since I really couldn’t tell the difference between the chana dal and yellow split peas, I was sure that the soup was going to be a success…so sure that I left it cooking on the stove and forgot it! The bottom burned and a thick layer of peas stuck to it.
But you know what you do when this happens, right? If you’re lucky, you can pour off the soup at the top, without stirring, scraping, or otherwise disturbing the burned part at the bottom. You may lose a lot of your peas this way, but believe me, you don’t want that burned sludge in your soup. I tried it, and thankfully it worked. I thought I could detect a certain smokiness that wasn’t caused by the chipotles, but fortunately no one else did. Recipe saved!
Southwestern Yellow Split-Pea Soup
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 pound yellow split peas (or chana dal)
- 1-2 teaspoons canned chipotle pepper , minced
- 7 cups hot water
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (mild or hot, depending on taste)
- 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 red bell pepper , chopped (or 1 roasted red pepper)
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper , to taste
- chopped onions , tomatoes, jalapeño pepper for garnish
In a pressure cooker, sauté the onion in a little water until translucent. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the split peas, chipotle, water, carrots, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Seal the cooker and bring to high pressure. Cook for 9 minutes at high pressure. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally.
You can also do this in a regular pot–just cook covered on very low heat until the split peas are tender, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring regularly.You will need to start with a little more water (try 8 cups) and add more as needed.
Open the cooker and add all remaining ingredients except garnish. Taste and add additional chipotles, chili powder or other seasonings as needed, and add additional water if it seems too thick. Cook uncovered on low for at least 15 more minutes. Serve in bowls with garnishes on top.
Special Note: A couple of commenters (thanks VeggieGirl and Aimee!) let me know that they’ve received the latest edition of VegNews magazine and that I won as the 2007 readers’ favorite veg blog. I’m a little afraid to believe it until I see it myself, so let’s just say that I’m cautiously ecstatic. Whether it’s true or not, thanks to everyone who voted for me; you win my award for best readers! And if you’re here because of the magazine, welcome! I hope you’ll stick around, take a look at the Recipe Index, and especially check out some of my family’s favorite recipes.