Michael has jumped in and taken over a lot of the evening cooking for me recently, and it's such a treat. After a long day away from my home and kitchen, there is nothing better than to walk in to a home cooked meal. It's a total role reversal, and the highlight of my day right now.
Michael is an excellent cook, and he will be the first to tell you that he owes it all to his exceptional ability to follow a recipe. Some of the best cooks are the best recipes followers, but that is where him and I differ. I am much more of an instinctual cook and a recipe rebel, where as he will follow a recipe so precisely, he freaks out over the smallest detail such as a lack of parsley for a garnish. I love that about him, and I think he makes me a better cook by questioning me and making me think twice when I tell him he can still make the recipe even though he has no parsley on hand.
Over dinner the other night, we were chatting about when it's best to let your instincts jump in. In the case of soups, I think that soups are that kind of dish where you need to let your instincts lead a little. The cut of the vegetable, the seasoning, the garnishes, the texture .... should all be thought about along the way and should be questioned if you feel that the recipe you're following might differ from the way you want the outcome to be. If you want a smooth soup, throw it into the blender ..... if you want less salt, then add less. You can always add more but you can never take away .... golden rule of soups, and cooking in general.
This is the season where I (we) make a new soup pretty much weekly. This week, Michael made us a delicious lentil soup for dinner, which I then was able to pack up and take with me a few days out of the week. Last week, we made this yellow lentil soup .... and there were no leftovers because we ate it all in the first day. The downside to a delicious soup. I blame it on the crispy shallots. These very lightly fried crispy shallots add an addicting crunch to the soup. With some microgreens and a generous splash of coconut milk and I can eat this all day on any cold winter day.
spiced yellow split pea soup + crispy shallots
** Inspired and only slightly adapted from THIS recipe from Sara of Sprouted Kitchen.
SEVES // 4
1 medium sweet potato (or yam)
2 tablespoons of ghee or olive oil
1 small red onion, sliced
1 red chili, seeded and sliced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoons of cumin
1 teaspoons of curry powder
a pinch of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
16 oz of yellow split peas, rinsed
6 cups of broth (homemade vegetable broth, preferably)
a squeeze of 1/2 of a lemon
for the crispy shallots:
1 large shallot, sliced thinly
3 tablespoons of chickpea flour
salt + pepper
3 tablespoons of grapeseed (or another high-heat oil)
1/4 cup of (canned) coconut milk (full fat or light)
a handful of micrograms
Roast the sweet potato:
- Pre-heat the oven to 425º. Using a fork, poke a bunch of holes in the sweet potato, place it on a baking sheet, and roast for 30-40 minutes until it is soft.
- When it's cool enough to handle, remove the sweet potato from the skin, measure out 1 cup, mash it well with a fork, and set it aside. Eat or save the skins and any extra sweet potato.
Make the soup:
- Heat the ghee or oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and red chili and cook until the onion is translucent (a couple of minutes). Then add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, curry, salt and pepper and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Then add the sweet potato flesh, the split peas, and the broth. Gently stir the mixture and then bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for about 45 minutes until the split peas are soft. Add the squeeze of lemon juice, stir, and then taste and adjust any seasoning necessary.
While the soup is cooking, make the shallots:
- On a plate, mix the flour with the salt and pepper. Then, add the shallots to the flour mixture and toss to coat the shallots with the flour.
- Line a small plate with paper towel and have it nearby. Then, in a small frying pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by adding a shallot and seeing if it sizzles. When the oil is ready, add all of the shallots. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, while shaking the pan to cook evenly (but do not disturb the shallots too much). Do this until they start to become brown (not too dark, because you don't want them to burn - this can happen quickly). Remove and set them on the plate with the paper towel.
Finish and assemble the soup:
- If you like, you can puree the soup. I like to puree about half by spooning half into my vitamix, so that it leaves a little bit of texture, but you can either puree it all or none ... however you like your soup texture to be.
- Pour the soup into individual bowls, finish with a healthy drizzle of the coconut milk, top with a few crispy shallots, a handful of microgreens, and a sprinkle of gomacio.