Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Garden Talk and Curried Split Pea Soup

I keep meaning to go to the grocery store, but I keep finding yummy ingredients around the kitchen. Since my goal is to keep saving up as much money as possible, this has been a real help. In fact, I only went to the grocery store twice this whole month and one of those times was just to get some produce. Hopefully, I can cut my grocery spending way back in the produce section this summer, as I'm going to be planting my first garden!

I started getting real excited about it this winter when I was wishing I had a bunch of home-canned yummies. I also started to get serious about composting and got a subscription to Mother Earth News. I love that magazine. I grew up reading it, but now I have my very own copies! Lol. The main problem with my yard though, is that it has huge trees that cover almost every patch of grass in shade. Most everything I want to plant requires full sun. Luckily though, my boyfriend's grandparents have a huge open yard as well as many years of gardening experience, so I won't have to figure things out on my own the hard way! Here's what I plan on planting (sorry for the photo):

From left to right: zucchini (Black Beauty), spinach (Long Standing Bloomsdale), tomatoes (Prudens Purple - heirloom seeds), kale (Dwarf Blue Curled - good for my part of Missouri), marigolds (natural pest control), and a sweet pepper "carnival mix" which includes Orange Suns, California Wonders, Golden California Wonders, Purple Beauties, and Diamonds. Since a plant (or seed) can not be labeled organic by the USDA if it is genetically modified, organic seeds are a pretty safe bet. I want to work up to growing heirlooms, but they take a little more care and love than I'm going to be able to give them this summer. I'd also like to be a little more experienced first.

I'm going to be starting my seeds indoors and then moving them outside. Some greens, such as the kale I'm going to grow, does better if it gets hit by a frost because it helps to un-bitter it. Our last frost of the year usually occurs in the last half of April, so I better get to planting! I'm going to try and post garden updates with photos, but you can't hold me to it!

Anywho, back to the tastiness in my kitchen. I knew I wanted some split peas, and I knew I had some vegetables to use up (sweet potato and celery), and I thought the best combination of these possible flavors would be with curry powder, so curried split pea soup was born! I really like this soup! Since it's the middle of the week, I just made a small batch (also, I'm not gonna lie, the big soup pot was holding leftovers and I didn't really feel like washing it...). This soup is thick, hearty, full of flavor, low in fat, full of vitamins and minerals, and love. I think I called this "love soup" two or three times while making it. I'm not sure why...

The soaking step of the peas is kind of important, otherwise your peas will be gross and hard, no matter how long you cook them. I do this with beans as well, and I think it actually works better than an overnight soak. 

Curried Split Pea and Vegetable Soup:
1/2 c. dried split peas, rinsed and picked through
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 large carrots, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
4 stalks celery, chopped (may use less) with their leaves (about 2 cups)
1 Tb. minced garlic
1 Tb. of your favorite curry powder
1/4 tsp. fennel seed
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1/2 Tb. dried cilantro
Vegetable broth
Sea salt and white pepper, to taste

1. After rinsing peas, cover them in water and bring them to a boil. Cover, and let them boil on high heat for three minutes. Remove any foam that comes to the surface. Turn off the heat then allow them to sit, covered, for one hour.

2. After the peas have soaked, drain them and give them new water, enough to cover them, plus about 1/2-3/4 an inch extra. Add the diced sweet potatoes to the pea pot and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, over medium-high heat in a skillet sprayed with some nonstick, saute the chopped carrot, onion, and celery until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, curry powder, fennel seed (crush it between your fingers as you add it to the skillet), and turmeric. Remember those celery leaves? Chop them and add them here. I only use the celery leaves if they are vibrant green and crisp. I also remove most of the celery stem parts because those ends of the celery seem to be a little bitter (I'd even say borderline dirty-foot like, but it's whatev). Saute everything another 1-2 minutes or until nice and fragrant. Add the sauteed veggies to the pea pot.

4. To the pea pot, add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth (or water) and the dried cilantro. You can use fresh but I use dried since I can't ever use it up fast enough. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until both the vegetables and peas are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This soup would be excellent with some Indian bread and unsweetened, plain soyogurt dolloped on top! It's also one of those foods that tastes better as it sits, so love on those leftovers!

In case you are curious, this soup makes about four, one-cup servings. Per serving, this soup has (when prepared according to the recipe) 0.5 grams of fat, 8.5 grams of protein, 8.3 grams of fiber, 59.3% of your daily Vitamin A, and about 9.5% each your daily Vitamin C and iron. I hope you all have a great day!


Vegan Mom said...

Wow, wish I could make it only twice a month to the grocery store, that is very impressive.

Also wanted to let you know that I awarded you the "Stylish Bloggers Award" on my blog. Bloggers so need an accolade such as this once in a while to encourage them to keep on keeping on. Your willingness to pass this gift on to others is not only a kindness but an inspiration. Hope you will pass on the award to other bloggers as well and Congrats! Thanks for having a great blog!

Jess of Midwest Vegan said...

Thank you!!