24 May 2008

catch-up: foodblog 4?

today was cold and rainy. i made the mistake of agreeing to go out of the building for lunch, figuring the rain was safely down to a mist by then, and of course on the way back it suddenly poured and four blocks later i rejoined my coworkers looking like a drowned rat and had to sit another four hours in an office chair, soggily squishing in my cold wet pants.

anyway, between the weather and it generally being a very monday-ish monday (which seemed to be going around today in a big way -- i had office space quoted to me a couple times, even), i didn't really feel like cooking but i also wanted to eat something comforting and warm. and ended up throwing together a surprisingly good soup out of not much. i'd like to claim i'm brilliant but actually the following is just a slapdash version of this recipe. thanks, clever vegan lady, for giving me something tasty to unceremoniously deveganize. i'm sorry.

yellow split pea soup

nonstick spray (i.e. pam or something)
1 medium/large onion, chopped
2 tbsp light olive oil (i.e. not virgin or extra-virgin, those burn too fast)
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
chunk of ginger (about a 1-inch cube), minced
2 cloves garlic or more, minced or smashed
2 tsp garam masala
a bag of yellow split peas (about 3 cups dry), rinsed -- and checked for pebbles!
chicken stock (and/or water)
a bay leaf
1 can sweet potatoes, drained
2 handfuls of mustard greens, torn up
salt, black pepper

spray the bottom of a big pot with the nonstick stuff. this sounded totally weird to me too, but trust me. it actually kept the onion from frying/burning much better than regular oil does.

on med-low heat, sautee the chopped onion until it gets soft and translucent, around 5 minutes. according to the clever vegan lady, you should then scoot the onions to one side of the pot -- i did that and then also scooted the pot halfway off the heat -- so that you can drop in the mustard seed and a little oil. the seeds should pop, with a jump and a noise, but they don't always -- they didn't tonight -- so if they pop or if they start getting dark, you can move on to the next step.

add in the garlic and ginger, stir, add more oil if needed, stir, add the coriander and garam masala, stir, add the spit pleas and stir again.

pour in lots of chicken stock (or water), enough to cover the peas by at least a half-inch. stir, add the bay leaf, cover and raise the heat to bring to a boil. then turn it back down to simmer the soup with the lid askew for about an hour, or until the peas are as soft as you want them. make sure to check on the water/stock level now and then, and add more if the soup is starting to dry out or look burny.

toss in the mustard greens and the sweet potatoes. replace the lid and cook on low heat until the greens are at your preferred texture -- for me, 5 minutes got them soft but not soggy. salt and pepper to taste. (salt is really critical to the soup not tasting like bland mush punctuated by sweet mushy chunks.)

i ate mine over some fridgified rice that wasn't going to be good for much else. it was quite satisfying. i like how (relatively) quickly split peas cook.

the original recipe called for kale, which i like but didn't have, and real (i.e. fresh) sweet potato, which gets cubed at the very beginning and tossed in to boil with the split peas, and "mild curry powder", which may or may not be what i used (?), and cumin, which i accidentally replaced with coriander before realizing it. yes, i'm sure cumin made more sense in the curry-powder context of the recipe. but it still came out tasty my way. i hope someone else tries this and tells me how it came out / what other changes you made / etc.

i'll try and write less-mundane things sometime soon. there's just been so much going on in my head lately, it's hard to talk about any of it. with anyone i mean. so don't take it personal, internet.


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