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A soup for all seasons

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As I watched the earlier series from Chef Alton Brown, Good Eats, I captured his recipe for Split Pea Soup and adapted it to organics. You can get the organic split peas, green or yellow, at health-oriented stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods in Tucson, among other places. Another ingredient in his soup is curry powder, which isn't hard to find at almost any supermarket these days, and is available in organics at Sprouts (that I know of; there are probably others). The other ingredients are probably in your kitchen right now: onions, garlic, butter, salt and broth.

It is my own fault, but I always buy yellow split peas because, alas, I don't find green pea soup appetizing. I must have some hangup, but fortunately there are both in the supermarkets these days. You can also use other legumes to make this soup, such as lentils (red lentils are a particular favorite of mine) or white beans.

You can use either chicken or vegetable broth to make this soup, and that makes it very simple to transform it into a vegetarian main dish for a Meatless Monday. Tucson is pretty hot right now, though, and you might want to file this recipe away for a cool autumn or winter night. The recipe will also benefit if you own an immersion blender to break it up once the dried split peas have cooked through and softened into a smooth consistency, which you convert to velvet with the blender.

I do not recommend processing hot soup in a blender or food processor, which happens when someone wants to serve it quickly. If you must use a conventional blender, you need to let the soup cool to the point where it is no longer dangerous before you even start. An immersion blender is an important tool, and one that I was unaware of for too long when I, too, could have hurt myself.

SPLIT PEA SOUP

Ingredients:

12 ounces organic split peas, green or yellow
2 Tablespoons organic butter
1 medium organic onion, chopped
Pinch of sea salt
2 cloves of organic garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons organic curry powder
5 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth

Turn the peas into a mixing bowl and sort through them to be sure there is no detritus in them such as small pieces of stone or peas that appear to be damaged. Cover them with water and leave them in the refrigerator overnight, covered.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and sweat the onions for about 5 minutes, until they become translucent. Add the garlic and let it cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Drain the peas and stir them into the onion-garlic mixture. Let the mixture mellow while you stir in the salt and curry powder.

Add the broth, cover the pot and let it cook for 45 minutes over low heat. After that, test to see that the peas are cooked completely. If they are tender, place your immersion blender into the soup and run it so that the texture becomes smooth and you can no longer see any peas.

Serve this soup hot with crusty bread, butter and wine. It makes a surprisingly hearty main dish. In fact, I wouldn't recommend serving it as an appetizer-type first course.

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