Recipe of the Week: Yellow Pea and Coconut Milk Soup

It is asparagus season in Ontario and I was looking forward to sharing some fabulous light spring recipe with you this week. Then we had snow at the cottage. The whole week has been cold and grey. Suddenly a hearty soup seemed like a much better idea. Luckily I just picked up a new book entitled Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. I’m a big fan of her cookbooks and this one looks like something I will return to again and again. This particular recipe takes a little planning because you have to soak the peas and they take a while to cook, but it’s worth the time. The weather report says that our temperature is going to shoot up into the high 20 degrees tomorrow, so next week we’ll be back to the asparagus.

Yellow Pea and Coconut Milk Soup
The Soup

2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed and soaked for at least one hour
2 bay leaves
3 cloves
Sea salt freshly ground pepper
2 to 4 tbsp butter, light sesame oil, or a mixture
1 large onion, finely chopped
¼ cup minced cilantro stems
1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1 15 ounce can of coconut milk (I use light coconut milk)
Juice of 1 large lime, or to taste
3 tbsp chopped cilantro

To Finish

½ cup rice
½ tsp each ground turmeric and paprika
¼ tsp each cumin seeds and freshly ground pepper
½ cup yogurt
Large bunch of spinach, stems removed, well washed

1. Once you have soaked the peas, drain them and put them in a pot with 2 quarts water, the bay leaves, cloves and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered.
2. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat then add the onion and cilantro stems. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to colour and soften, about 10 minutes. Add the spices and ½ cup of water from the simmering peas and cook until the water has cooked away. Add the onion to the simmering peas and continue cooking until both a very soft, about an hour in all. Remove the bay leaves and cloves, then puree. Return the soup to the stove and stir in the coconut milk. Add the lime juice then taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped cilantro.
3. To finish, bring 1 cup water to a boil then add ¼ tsp salt and the rice. Give it a stir, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook until the rice has absorbed the water and is done, about 15 minutes. Combine the spices with the yogurt and set aside. In a separate skillet, wilt the spinach in the water clinging to its leaves, then chop it coarsely. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, divide the spinach leaves among them, then add the cooked rice to each bowl and serve with a spoonful of the spiced yogurt.

Makes 10 cups

From Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen