Split Pea Sunshine & Saffron Soup

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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