Friday, October 5, 2012

Yellow Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
Every now and again I have a little kitchen epiphany, those moments when I surprise and delight myself by veering out of my comfort zone, fueled by curiosity, imagination, instinct and persistence, landing somewhere strange, wonderful and unexpected. 
This was not one of those moments.
Sometimes it's just dumb luck, boredom or desperation.
It started here:

Sometime last year. Somewhere over at Rainbow, my local natural foods co-op and my happy place for bulk shopping, I found myself particularly mezmerized by legumes.
Let me back up a bit though. The first time I ever walked in there I was transformed. For this, I have to thank Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, another inspiration to the little kitchen. The intro to her cookbook, Super Natural Cooking Everyday, described this Oz-like food shopping experience.   
I feel all fuzzy, warm and virtuous whenever I shop there, always curious & inspired by the amazing towers of beans, lentils, grains, nuts and bins of obscure flours. It excites me more and scares me less now, but at first I was truly overwhelmed by it's strangeness,
I bought bags and bags of colorful split peas, lentils and beans imagining exploration out of my black/refried bean comfort zone, but mostly, I envisioned them pretty-ing up the pantry shelves in my new Ikea glass jars.
One year later:
The impetus to finally open the jars and consult numerous cookery books and blogs, was more out of neccessity than anything else.

The sporadic employment of a free-lance artist creates adapting to feast or famine. I've been doing this all my working life. The upside to the downside is the creative juices surge in the lean times.
Last week I found myself in the pantry, looking for a project that would keep me busy and out of the store. Is it just me? I can't leave the house, even for a walk around the corner to the library without returning $20 poorer.
Anyhoo...this is what I made. Yellow split peas making their little kitchen debut in this brilliant soup. This was my epiphany: Split Peas?!? Why did I not know about this?!?
Thanks again to Heidi at 101 Cookbooks for this gorgeous recipe. My only deviation was to puree the entire batch. I started, as instructed, with an emersion blender, leaving some texture in there, but some of the peas seemed undercooked to me. I wasn't sure if this is just a characteristic of split peas in general or the fact that my peas were so old...I had also mixed two diffferent batches of dried peas...but once I tossed it into the blender this really came together perfectly. Sweet and creamy and the dollop of cucumber riata  finished off the soup beautifully.

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