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Themes of the times are simplicity, economy, moving away from meat and dairy, and of course, ever importantly, deliciousness and health.

These past days I’ve made minor changes to my usual methods of soup-making, using vegetables and green split peas and yellow split peas respectively, in more or less equal measure – rather than giving the throne to one or the other. The result has been very smooth and creamy vegan vegetable soups with basic and local ingredients.  I’ve used no dairy,  and no potato or rice, so these soups are therefore lower and slower carb. They move beyond their familiar cousins –a Split Pea Soup with carrots and onion, thyme, maybe bay, perhaps ham or bacon — a Cream of Carrot as a thinned root vegetable potage with the variation you choose– to announce not a superiority but a difference, and an assuredly vegetarian one that doesn’t lack heartiness.  Try this approach for ease.

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Green Split Pea and Spinach Soup

  • 1 cup green split peas
  • 3 cups water, soak and boil, or pressure cook until very soft.
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 celery stalks, sauteed in olive oil
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • a handful of frozen spinach
  • salt and pepper
  • Puree in the blender or with a blending stick.
  • Reheat, thin with water or stock if you like
  • Adjust salt, and squeeze generously with lemon juice.

So simple and good.  You could see it as a green (spinach, kale, chard, nettles…) soup sweetened with sweet peas and both bulked and made creamy by split peas… Or a split pea soup lightened with all that green… Hearty but not heavy. Really successful.

Yellow Split Pea and Carrot Soup

  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 3 cups water, soak and boil or pressure cook until soft
  • 5 carrots, boiled in the last five minutes
  • 2 onions, chopped, sauteed in olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Everything blended or whizzed to a rather startling pale orange colour
  • Thin if necessary
  • Reheat, adjust flavours, add lemon, preserved lemon, or lime pickle (my favourite)

A soup like this would be amazing with so many additions: ginger, turmeric, cumin and coriander, chili powder, Ethiopian spice mix… and of course garden herbs…  Sweet potatoes and squash would work beautifully as strong, orange vegetables as well. And of course fresh herbs strewn on top are lovely.  But I am liking the simplicity of the legume plus onion plus carrot, which seems to make the perfect platform for the flamboyant Lime Pickle flavours.  That’s what’s for lunch today…

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I am really enjoying dried peas these days and happily cooking with organic ones grown in Shropshire and sold by the brilliant British staple foods company Hodmedod’s.  With curiousity I looked up the farm of origin and noticed that it is just outside the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, where through monuments and museums one can contemplate the history and ramifications of the Industrial Revolution.  A couple of hundred years later, we inhabit a planet a bit crushed under the weight of all that industry. As COP21 finishes, a momentous attempt to grapple politically with Climate Change, I have no solid sense of being either optimistic or pessimistic. But it feels good to be making vegan split pea soups with peas from an organic farm at that historic epicentre.

 

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