I love any recipe that starts with a couple of generous handfuls of dried legumes. When cooked, I can literally feel their nutritional benefit with every spoonful and that’s not some fanciful imagining, these cute little morsels are packed with calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin B6 and zinc not to mention protein and fibre. So, whenever, I’m feeling a bit off colour or too busy to get up to much else I know that, so long as I have a stock of dried peas, lentils and beans in my pantry – always – I can knock up a delicious bowl of dhal or soup in minutes. This week, the return to the demands of so-called normal life after a long break has left us feeling a bit depleted and we needed to give our insides a little love. As you may know, the Greeks interpret the concept of the classic cure-all chicken soup in the form of Avgolemono, a loving lemony broth of shredded chicken, eggs and rice but there’s also a version using split yellow peas which I love. So with both those recipes in mind, I created this virus-busting vegetarian interpretation with a warming Indian twist for dinner last night. We felt better instantly and, today, we are ready to face the world again.
300g split yellow peas, rinsed under running cold water
Half tsp turmeric
3cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 dried red chillies, crumbled
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and diced into 2cm pieces
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 2cm pieces
200ml coconut milk
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp of desiccated coconut
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
Greek yoghurt, for garnishing
How I make it
Add the peas to a large pan and cover with 1 litre of cold water. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and allow them to simmer for five minutes.
Skim off any foam that rises to the surface before adding the turmeric, ginger, chillies, cumin seeds and vegetables. Cover with more cold water so everything is submerged, partially cover and allow everything to simmer away for 30-45 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Add the coconut milk and blend everything together to form a dhal-like consistency. Return the mixture to your pan and stir in the coconut, lemon zest and juice.
Meanwhile, in a hot frying pan, heat up the olive oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start popping add to the soup. Stir and season to your taste. Serve with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and a couple of shreds of lemon zest.
Any leftovers will naturally thicken in your fridge so add a little cold water and slowly bring back up to temperature.