The Flavor of Curry...

I love the flavor of curry (heck, I love the flavor of most spices in general). I love how spices look, their aroma (how they perfume the house when you cook with them), but mostly I love how they taste and that they can make even the simplest foods into something really flavorful and special. Case-in-point...Curried Split Pea Soup. I enjoy traditional split pea soup (click here for a recipe) but sometimes I don't want the meat (mainly, ham) but still want a hearty split peas soup. So I made this version. And let me say this about it: Firstly, this is so easy to make even someone who claims not to know how to cook can make it. And secondly, this is so delicious you'll not be able to stop eating it (I ate it for the past 3 joke). In this recipe, which is below, I used a good quality (and spicy) curry blend which I purchased from Penzys, but often--more often than not, actually--I make my own spice blend (click here for an easy homemade curry blend). Whichever you use, this is super easy to make, nutritious, and really delicious.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Curry and Caramelized Onions
Makes about 3 quarts

Heat 3 tablespoons canola oil or clarified butter in a heavy pot (I prefer cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook them—stirring frequently—for about five minutes, or until they start to brown, then stir in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute or so. Lower the heat and stir in 2-4 tablespoons (or more) of your favorite curry powder, and add any of your other favorite spices as well (such as extra cumin, turmeric, coriander, or chilies; all of which should be in the curry powder already). Stir the spices for a minute or so in the hot fat to bring out their flavors, then stir in 3 cups of yellow split peas and about 10 cups of chicken broth (if you want to keep this vegetarian use vegetable broth). Season the soup with a teaspoon or two of kosher salt (being careful if you are using canned broth which is already salted) and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Allow the soup to boil for a minute then turn it down to a simmer. Cook the soup for about an hour—stirring it frequently—and add more liquid if it becomes too thick. Just before removing it from the heat stir in about 1/4 cup of fresh lemon or lime juice and—if you have it on hand and enjoy it's flavor—also stir in a handful of chopped cilantro.