Saturday, February 11, 2012

Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

In the dark and dreary doldrums of February, there are few things more satisfying than a simmering cauldron of soup, and this is a really good one. Perfect for those nights when your tummy wants the culinary equivalent of a hug, it's like a happy marriage between an Indian dal and an old-fashioned split pea soup. The combination of legumes, greens, and sweet potatoes make it balanced meal all on its own, but that's really just a fortunate footnote to its deliciousness. So what are you waiting for? Drag out the soup pot and start soaking some peas!

Split Pea and Sweet Potato Soup
~ 1.5 cups yellow split peas (chana dal)
~ 2 tbsp. canola oil
~ 1 tsp. each: mustard seeds, cumin seeds
~ 1 tbsp. grated ginger
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 tbsp. good curry powder
~ 1 tsp. each: chili powder, fenugreek powder
~ 1 tsp. salt (optional, depending on how salty your stock is)
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
~ 6-7 cups vegetable broth (another plug for Better Than Bouillon's "no chicken" flavor)
~ 1 15 oz. can light coconut milk
~ 1 lb. spinach, roughly chopped
~ A generous shot of hot sauce (optional; I use Sriracha)

~ In a colander, rinse and pick over the split peas, then place them in a bowl of cold water to soak for at least an hour (the longer you soak them, the faster they'll cook).
~ In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Stir briefly and cook until they just begin to pop.
~ Add the ginger, the onion, and the celery, and continue cooking about 5 minutes.
~ Drain and rinse the split peas and add them to the pot along with the sweet potatoes, the dry spices, and the bay leaves.
~ Stir to coat, raise the heat to high, and add the vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
~ When the split peas are tender, add the coconut milk, the baby spinach, and the hot sauce; cook about 5 minutes more, until the spinach is just wilted.
~ Fish out the bay leaves, taste for seasoning, and serve hot. NB that this makes great leftovers, but like all legume-based soups, it may thicken a bit as it stands; just thin it with a little extra broth or water when reheating.


  1. This sounds really good - I particularly like the sound of the addition of the coconut milk and the vegan chicken stock.

    I've had no luck with split peas in the past - most instructions I've seen have said not to soak - but they never cook through. I will try soaking them, and will try this recipe! Thanks. Matt

  2. That's funny, I've always soaked legumes before cooking them (probably because my mom did). Anyway, definitely try doing it that way; they'll cook faster, too!