Mediterranean yet wintery. Good hot or room temperature. Healthy, vegetarian, vegan. Inexpensive and delicious. This is obviously a soup with many qualities.
I like to prepare it using water instead of stock, allowing the main flavor to be mild and mainly from the split peas. Just put the split peas in a pot, cover with cold water about 2 inches above the peas, add some chopped onion, a clove or two of garlic peeled and a small bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat, stir with a wooden spoon, cover with a lid and simmer very gently for about 30-45 minutes until split peas are falling apart. Add a touch more water during the cooking if necessary. Remove the bay leaf, season with salt and puree it in a blender to make it very smooth and adjusting the consistency with the cooking liquid and more water if desired. Voila'. As simple as that.
This way the soup becomes a fantastic base to be enjoyed by itself with just a drizzle of extra virgin and a touch of sea salt or to have flavors built upon. For example freshly chopped flat parsley and chopped red onion provide a wonderful contrast in flavor, texture and color as in the image above.
Like all legumes they are a great source of protein, which if combined with protein from carbohydrates, may provide a protein input value comparable to the one deriving from eating animal products.
Therefore you could pair to this soup:
- Croutons, baked or sautéed in oli, plain or seasoned with herbs, garlic, paprika
- Pasta, like boiled ditalini with or without a touch of Parmigiano
- Rice, like steamed basmati for example
- A cooked grain like steamed whole barley or spelt seasoned with lemon juice and fresh herbs.
- Diced ripe tomatoes seasoned with extra virgin, and sea salt (summertime only!)
Or if you don't necessarily care to keep it vegetarian I love adding shrimp and/or scallops and/or squid and/or mussels sautéed in extra virgin, garlic, fresh thyme and finished with a touch of white wine.