If I’d have put the name of this food in the title of the post, you probably wouldn’t have kept reading.
But I wanted to first be able to tell you that just a quarter cup of the mystery ingredient has 11 grams of protein in it. (And that a single serving of soup made from it has 22 grams!)
And that it’s totally soy free, and it’s a whole, unprocessed food. And that it’s used in a lot of vegan protein powders because it’s such a good source. Alright, ready?
Split peas. And it turns out that in this soup, they’re not at all gross.
A long history of hatin’ on peas
I despise normal peas. You could even say I fear peas.
Like a little kid, I eat around them, so that by the time I’m done with a stew or pasta dish made with peas, there’s a little quarantine-zone on my plate where they safely reside.
One of my early memories is of sitting on a stool at my family’s breakfast bar. I had a pile of peas remaining on my plate, which I was told I had to eat before I could get up. I clearly remember thinking, “How am I possibly going to get out of this situation?”, since eating them was absolutely not an option, in my mind. (I don’t remember how the standoff ended, but I’m pretty sure I escaped without choking down too many of them.)
And so I avoided split pea soup, for a long time. Basically, because it sounded like the worst thing anyone could ever make.
But one day I tried it, and…
I loved it! To me, it tasted nothing like the peas I grew up so passionately hating. Turns out that one was made with ham stock, but there are plenty of good vegetarian and vegan versions. Like this one.
This split-pea soup, from the “Spring” section of Terry Walters’ CLEAN START, has an added spin on it that gives it a truly fresh and unique flavor — Meyer lemon juice and zest. It’s unlike any ham-free split pea soup I’ve had before, and way better-tasting.
Meyer lemons are like a cross between oranges and lemons. (They might literally be that; I’m not sure.) They’re good, but if you don’t have access to them, don’t worry — I just used a large, regular lemon in this soup, and it turned out brilliantly.
One more note: You probably don’t have to cook it for the full 2.5 hours, as specified in this recipe. Prep time is minimal, so if you just plan ahead it’s no problem, but I usually only let it go for two hours or so, because I don’t mind a little texture to my soup.
So come on, shake off that anti-pea bias. Give this one a try, and add a new protein source to your diet. You can always go back to tofu and beans tomorrow.
Creamy Split Pea Soup with Meyer Lemon Zest and Thyme
Reprinted with permission from CLEAN START, by Terry Walters, Sterling Epicure, 2010.
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- Sea salt
- White pepper
- 3 cups green split peas
- 10 cups vegetable stock
- 1 Meyer lemon (zest and juice)
In a soup pop or large Dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion and celery in oil until soft (about 4 minutes). Add thyme and mirin, season generously with salt and white pepper and saute 2 minutes longer.
Rinse split peas and add to pot with sauteed vegetables. Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 2.5 hours or until peas are soft and soup is thick. If peas don’t fall apart completely, puree with handheld blender until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with lemon zest and serve.