Split Pea Soup and Blueberry Muffins, Yum!

There are a million recipes out there claiming to be the best chocolate chip cookie or the best macaroni and cheese – split pea soup isn’t quite as sexy, but if there was a contest for best split pea soup, I would enter this recipe and I’m pretty sure I would win. This is another recipe from Cook This Now, which we all know by now is my favorite cookbook (and this recipe is from March, so I’m still on schedule!). It’s vegetarian, as am I, so I suppose I can’t really say if it’s better than a split pea soup with ham – but I’m guessing that it is. Or just as good, at least – there are so many delicious flavors happening that you won’t miss any meat. The coriander and ginger make it taste almost like an Indian dish, while the lemon brightens it up. It’s easy and savory and filling and really just so, so good that I want you all to make it for dinner tonight. And for the economically-minded of us, I bought all of the ingredients for under $15, and have lunches for the week. Turns out split peas are very budget-friendly.

My time saving notes: in lieu of chopping all the veggies, you could use the pre-chopped mirepoix from Trader Joes (or Met Market if you’re in Seattle, New Seasons if you’re in Portland). I chopped most of the veggies myself this time, but I did use the bag of chopped onion from Trader Joe’s, and my little secret jar of minced garlic (so un-gourmet, please don’t tell). I will jump at the chance to grate fresh ginger for any recipe, but if you’re really into time-saving tricks you can get minced ginger in the little jars as well, which leaves you with essentially zero prep work and zero excuse not to make this soup.

A note from Melissa: both she and I think even split-pea-soup-haters will love this soup, but if peas really aren’t your thing, you could do this with red lentils in lieu of the split peas and I bet it would be delicious as well.

A note from me: once everything is in your pot, you’ll need to let it simmer for about an hour and a half – this is coincidentally the same length of time as the Beyonce documentary on HBO. So that’s what I watched last night while I waited for dinner to be ready (in lieu of laundry and other household chores, as planned) – it is SO good and I’m now completely obsessed with her. I feel so bad for ever thinking she used a surrogate. Also, I wish I looked as good on my laptop-cam as she does – if I did, I would make this soup on camera, just for fun.

Gingery Split Pea Soup with Toasted Coriander (from Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark)

Serves 4

1 teaspoon whole coriander seed, crushed with the flat side of a knife (or use 1 teaspoon ground coriander)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2-inch-thick piece of gingerroot, peeled and grated
1 pound split peas, picked over and rinsed
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 rosemary branches, plus additional chopped leaves for garnish
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
Good olive oil, for drizzling

1. In a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, toast the coriander until fragrant, 1-2 minutes, then pour in the oil. Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, leek, garlic, and ginger. Reduce the heat to medium; cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the peas, 4 cups water, the stock, salt, and pepper. Drop in the rosemary and bay leaf (you can tie them up in kitchen string if you like; this makes them easier to remove later). Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low; simmer until the peas are tender and falling apart and the soup is thick, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove and discard the rosemary and bay leaf. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.

3. Thin with water to the desired consistency. Warm over medium-low heat if need be. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with oil and garnish with chopped rosemary.

I’ve been thinking lately that, due to the name of this blog, I should perhaps start making things with blueberries (and/or basil). They had blueberries at the market yesterday (although obviously not local), and on Friday a coworker had asked me why I hadn’t brought any treats in lately, so while watching Beyonce last night I tried a new recipe from my Joy the Baker cookbook (she also has a great blog, for anyone who’s interested – apparently she was in a blueberry mood yesterday too!). These are super simple and delicious, albeit not super healthy (the subtitle of her book is “a celebration of butter and sugar,” so I’m not sure what I was expecting). I thought about making these with coconut oil rather than butter, but seeing as how the title is “brown butter” blueberry muffins I thought maybe I should try them her way, at least at first. They were a big hit at the office this morning, but next time I make them I’m going to try to “health” them up a little – stay tuned.

Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins (from the Joy the Baker Cookbook, by Joy Wilson)

Makes 12 muffins

For the muffins:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (if using frozen, thaw and drain before using)

For the topping:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter – it will melt, froth, and begin to crackle. That’s the water cooking out of the butter. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly. Remove from heat when butter solids become a medium brown color and butter smells slightly nutty. Immediately pour hot butter into a small bowl to stop the cooking.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add brown butter once it’s cooled a bit.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir gently to combine. Carefully fold in the blueberries. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (I use an ice-cream scooper for uniform size).

5. To make the topping, combine the flour, sugar, and butter in a small bowl and rub together with clean fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over the muffin batter in the cups.

6. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden and crisp and a skewer inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Muffins will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days, but are best on the day they’re made.

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16 thoughts on “Split Pea Soup and Blueberry Muffins, Yum!

    • If you try it, let me know what you think! If you used ground coriander rather than the whole seeds, and maybe left out the rosemary (or tied it up in cheesecloth while making the soup, and then removing it), it would be Oliver-friendly too I think. There are chunks of carrot, but I cut mine pretty small and they are super super mushy – the coriander and rosemary were the only things in it I would worry about.

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