For Valentines day, I could have pretended to find some "romantic" soup to make but after a week of birthday celebration I am, of course, sick. Sick for the first time since I got the ax in October! So instead I wanted "feed your soul" sort of soup and looking at my cheat sheet for soups to cover in the next six days split pea sounded the most tempting to my mucus muted palette. Normally split pea is associated with pork or bacon and while both sound wonderful I try to avoid cooking with them (damn vegetarian boyfriend!). So I was drawn to other ideas for "spicing up" your average vegetarian split pea soup. I found two methods that both sounded interesting and both of them rely on garnish for interest so I decided to try both. One called for a topping of caramelized onions and cumin seeds, while the other relies on the power of slow cooked garlic croutons. Maybe the marriage of the two rival the romance of Romeo and Juliet...
Split Pea Soup with Caramelized Onions and Garlic Croutons
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 medium leek, halved, sliced and well rinsed
2 carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 cups dried split peas
8 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
Caramelized Onions with Cumin Seed
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of salt
4-5 thin slices multi-grain bread
In a skillet heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium low heat. Cook garlic for croutons for about 10 minutes until lightly golden. Do not burn. Salt oil and garlic combo and take off heat. Place bread slices in oil and flip so that each side is well coated with oil. Place on a cooking sheet and sprinkle cooked garlic over reserving oil. Place under a broiler for 1 -2 minute each side or until browned. Set aside to cool. When cool break into pieces.
In the same skillet heat reserved oil (adding as much a another tbsp if needed). Cook onions and cumin seed over medium low heat for 30 minutes or until onions are golden in color. Set aside.
While the onions are caramelizing prepare the soup. In a soup pot heat remaining oil over medium heat. Cook onions, leeks, and carrots for 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more. Add peas, bay leaves and broth and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook 20 minutes or until the peas are cooked. Remove bay leaves, reserve 2 cups of the soup and puree the rest. Return reserved soup to the pot and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with garnish of onions and croutons.