Soup, gently simmering on the stove whilst infusing the air with its aromatic elements holds the promise of more than your next meal. Whether it’s a low interference meal to prepare, a waistline trimmer or an effective method to consume a rainbow of vegetables, this dish is the perfect platform to get creative with your ingredients.
Putting a soup together is a few simple steps away; however, there is one misconception ‘to dump everything in the pot together with water or stock and to let it cook’. This method of cooking soup might address your personal objectives of weight loss, simplicity or nutrition but at the cost of tasting like prison food. Have you ever wondered why restaurant soups have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’? They incorporate ingredients in stages to create a depth in flavor and texture. Some are even slightly sautéed to provide a delicate caramelized contribution. These steps add an extra couple of minutes, but don’t forget, you’re making a dish that lets you off the hook more than others.
Allow for another consideration – Vision. What do you have in mind? clear broth, bisque (cream based) or a potage (thick and opaque). You may question the relevance of this but it will ultimately determine the ingredients and utensils involved. Today, I am making a potage of yellow split pea with sautéed vegetables. If a soup is all you are planning to have for dinner, this soup will gratify the belly and sustain you through the night. Yellow split peas work very well in a potage as the more they break down, the more they add a buttery and velvety texture to the base without the calories. With some sautéed vegetables, and a garnish of chopped nuts and seeds or croutons, soup will have never tasted this ‘gourmet’.
2 cups yellow split peas
1 medium onion, finely diced
10 cups of vegetable stock or water
Aromatics: 1 sprig of thyme, 1 bay leaf, 2 black pepper corns, 6 sprigs of parsley stems
Salt to taste
½ a cup of diced celery
½ a cup of diced carrots
½ cup of diced green beans
Garnish: 1 tsp per bowl of soup of chopped nuts, seeds or croutons and a drizzle of oil (chili, sesame or truffle infused)
1) Wash the split peas and sort through for any stones
2) Lightly sweat onions until soft (don’t brown them), add the aromatics and season with salt. Bring to boil in the stock or water. Reduce to a simmer for about 1 hour (until the lentils are soft)
3) Separately, sauté the vegetables until they are soft – set aside on paper towels to absorb any grease
4) Once the split peas are soft, add the vegetables to the soup (you may reserve some for a final garnish)
5) Serve in soup bowls, with a small heap of the garnish and a light drizzle of oil
Serve with toasted bread or a savory scone
Pearls of wisdom
If you like pureed based soups, remove the aromatics and blend the split pea with an immersion blender.