I found this recipe from My New Roots and immediately fell in love with it because saffron is involved. Besides, I haven’t had a good pea soup in a long time and I was also looking forward to using the vegetable broth that I made. The bags have just been sitting in the freezer waiting to be used.
I had to soak the dried split peas for at least 8 hours. So as soon as the little one finished his breakfast, I put the peas in some water to soak all day long. I actually had to add some more water by early afternoon.
I remembered to soak the peas but I forgot to defrost my broth. So, I just filled the sink up with very hot water and put the broth in to defrost a bit. Each bag has 2 cups so they were ready by the time I actually needed it. While they were defrosting, I went to work chopping up the carrots, leek, and butternut squash.
Before I actually started to chop up the vegetables, I put a pinch of saffron in a bowl with about 4-5 tablespoons of hot water. I actually turned the kettle on and turned it off right before the bell dinged. I poured the water in a mug and let it cool a touch and then spooned it over the saffron.
I didn’t have 2 leeks, as the recipe calls for. I just had 1 left in the fridge and I thought that was ok. As soon as I rinsed the carrots off, my dog, who was upstairs, came running down and stood next to me in the kitchen hoping for a piece of carrot. I have no idea how he knows I’ve got a carrot but he just knows. I also didn’t want to use 4 garlic cloves so I just minced 1 clove.
When I was done chopping up the butternut squash, carrots, and leek I was ready to start my soup. I got a big pot and heated up some oil and threw in the cumin and paprika along with the bay leaves. I had the pot on one of the eyes in the back of the stove and I kept leaning over the stove because the aroma coming from the spices and bay leaves were just wonderful.
I’ve never really used bay leaves in cooking before. I’ve never seen them used in Southern or Korean cooking. I could be wrong about Southern cooking though. It wasn’t until I started to really cook and saw them in Jamie Oliver’s recipes. They’re leaves. I didn’t see anything special about them at all. In fact, sometimes I went so far as to leave them out completely because I didn’t understand the flavors they impart nor the nutritional value. Surprisingly these benign looking green leaves have vitamins C, A, and B-6 as well as calcium. And as for the flavor they leave, this is from my Cook’s Wisdom book:
Elongated gray-green leaves used to flavor sauces, soups, stews, and braises, imparting a slightly sweet, citrusy, nutty flavor. Usually sold dried, bay leaves should be removed from a dish before serving as they are leathery and can have sharp edges.
The aroma that came from them, if you just smell one leaf, is nice.
Once I was happy the spices and leaves were mixed well, I threw in the vegetables and tossed them to coat with the spices as best as I could. I tried stirring as delicately as I could without breaking up the bay leaves in the process. Then you throw in your split peas.
By the time the peas were ready to go in the pot, they were soft. So, the actual cooking time of the soup didn’t take long at all. I was kind of worried about that because soups usually take a while to cook. But this one didn’t take long at all. Next, I added my newly thawed-out broth and saffron water.
The saffron water immediately changed the color of the soup. It already starting to look like the color of sunshine! Because my broth wasn’t completely thawed out, I had to wait for the soup to come back up to a boil. Then I let it simmer until I felt the butternut squash and other vegetables were soft enough to use the immersion blender. But before you use the blender, you have to fish out the 5 bay leaves. I managed to pick out 4 1/2. I couldn’t find the other half! I think it got blended up which is ok. I stood over the pot for a good 10 minutes tying to find that half of a leaf!
After I blended everything, I added some salt because I felt it needed something. You don’t have to. I just happen to love salt and I felt that the soup needed a bit of seasoning or an extra oomph. Then you squeeze the juice of half of a lemon and OH…MY… WORD! After you squeeze that lemon juice in and stir, the flavor just POPS. Oh my! Trust me when I say it. The lemon juice just…WOW. You’ll just have to make the soup and taste it for yourself.
When you’re ready, spoon some in a bowl with a swirl of olive oil. I put some pepper on top of mine as well.
The soup was SUPER easy to make. I think the longest part for me was fishing out the bay leaves. The little one ended up having 2 bowls for supper! If you’re eating bread, this would be good with a nice baguette. I didn’t do the little carrot flowers as a garnish like Sarah Britton did. I just didn’t have any more carrots to do that and I didn’t have time because the little one was anxious to eat after he had a taste of the soup. I let him do a taste test after using the immersion blender because the blender scares him. I’m definitely going to make this soup again. The little one had 2 little bowls, I had a bowl, and ended up with 4 cups of leftovers as well as some to freeze. It’s even good for lunch the next day!