So what is Mother Nature doing where you are? Is it as weird and crazy there? Temperatures all over the place, nonstop rain and storms, flooding, weird random sunshine when you least expect it (and probably cannot take advantage of it anyway if you have a traditional weekday job)… Despite the lighthearted tone of this post, my heart goes out to those in the South who are dealing with the very real fallout from tornadoes this spring, not to mention those who are dealing with the problems with flooding everywhere. Sammy has developed an absolute terror of tornadoes this spring for no apparent reason (no reason where we are-she is not old enough to watch the news) and in light of current events it is hard to reassure her not to worry. For me, just dealing with the lack of sunshine and temperature fluctuation has been crazy enough. I mentioned that it felt like summer last week and why did I choose to do my spring planting in that heat? Well this week is starting out with highs in the lower 50s. The windows have all been shut and we are all bundled in sweaters inside, trying not to turn the heat on as the it dips into the low 40s at night. My sinuses are confused, to put it mildly.
Those are not downed trees, those are tree roots stretching across the creek, a good foot or so above water.
On a weird but related note, we took a walk down to our creek during that warmer weather, and, uh, *my* creek is no longer there. Its architecture has been completely changed from all of the flooding and flash floods. There are watering holes we cannot walk through where previously there were none (much to Finnegan’s delight), because flooding brought silt down the hillside into the creek. The terrain is flattened in all sorts of crazy places not all that close to the creek, demonstrating just how completely the flooding water covered the area. And perhaps most impressive, at least to me, the moving water clearly dug a deeper bed for the creek–now that the crazy flooding water is gone, the creek is walk-able, about up to my knees or lower, but where the tree roots used to be completely submerged under the ground and under the water, they have now been exposed and are well above water level. Kids, let’s talk about erosion!
So while I might not normally be peddling hearty, warming soups in the spring, this spring I am. They are comforting in the face of adversity and they are warming for when the weather takes one of its crazy nosedives. Not to mention the fact that it is only weirdos like me who think of this kind of food as winter food–after all, it is always hot in the Persian Gulf!
The beautiful thing about this soup is that it is a blueprint (I found it in Feast from the Mideast: 250 Sun-Drenched Dishes from the Lands of the Bible, one of my used bookstore scores, by Faye Levy). Cooks in the Mideast might add noodles, bulgur or rice; they might add whatever vegetables they have in their pantry and they might use vegetable or beef stock instead of chicken. I added the garlic, cumin and aleppo as well as red lentils to the recipe–the first three for flavor and the latter because red lentils are a great thickener as well as a nutritional powerhouse. I also massively increased the onions because my husband and I adore onions. Winter squash could be subbed for the carrots. I also think zucchini or cauliflower would work well in this dish, added more towards the end so as to maintain some firmness in their bite.
- 1 cup yellow split peas (can use green but they will take longer and I am unfamiliar with them)
- ½ cup red lentils
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2-3 cups water
- 3 large carrots, cleaned and diced
- ⅓ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- ½ cup white rice (I used basmati)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 t curry powder
- 1 t ground cumin
- coarse aleppo pepper flakes, to heat tolerance/taste
- 2 T or more fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
- 2 large (or more to taste) onions, diced, divided
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T oil or butter
- 2 T fresh or 2 t dried mint
- Rinse lentils and split peas until water runs clear. Combine with the stock and 2 cups of the water in a large saucepan. Add one of the diced onions and bring to a boil. When it boils, reduce to a simmer and cook (20 minutes for yellow split peas, 45 minutes for green).
- After the 20 (or 45) minutes is up, add to the pot the carrots, parsley, rice, curry powder, ground cumin, aleppo, salt and pepper. Cook for another 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it and add more water if necessary.
- While the split peas are cooking, heat a skillet with the 2 tablespoons of oil or butter. Add the remaining onion (I like a lot so I used 2 onions here) and fry for 5 minutes on high. Add the garlic and stir fry for another 5 minutes. Cook until desired doneness--the recipe calls for them to be golden, but I like them more caramelized so I cooked them for longer. Stir in the mint and add to the split peas when the rice and split peas both are tender.
- Add the lemon/lime juice and taste for additional lemon/lime juice or more seasoning such as cumin or curry powder (or more heat in the form of the aleppo). Serve with a lemon or lime wedge and a sprinkling of coarse aleppo pepper flakes.
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