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Yellow pea soup might not be oozing cool factor or feel very hip – but it should! You can’t really ask for more bang for your buck than what you get here – we’re talking nutrient dense and gut mobilizing yellow peas (how about 22 grams protein and 11 grams fiber per 100 gram dried?), simply cooked with leek and carrots and blended into a warming, hearty, fall-friendly meal. Peas deserve a lot more (positive) attention than they get. Besides being great for us, they’re also quite awesome for our planet. See, peas (together with all their other legume friends) possess the ability to fix nitrogen, i.e. converting nitrogen from the air into ammonium in the soil, which is needed for plants to grow big and strong. Or, it’s actually not the legumes themselves that do all the work – they need to cooperate with a bacteria (the rhizobia bacteria) that (symbiotically) live in their root systems. Peas are also well suited for field growing – meaning no green houses needed whatsoever – and can easily be cultivated even here, far up north. All in all, peas are awesome for everyone and everything, whether we have two or four or however many legs, grow in the ground or spin us all around the sun.
But enough ecology for today. This recipe does require soaking the peas unless you buy already cooked (but the dried ones are a lot cheaper), and will need to simmer on the stove for a while so we can’t brag about the soup coming together in a jiffy – but it’s worth it. Make sure you make a big batch, and the two hours you spend cooking (although passively, most of the time) will seem like a smart investment. Leeks this time of year – here in Sweden – are glorious. Massive. So flavorful. And the perfect allium for pea soup. Throw in some carrots for good measure and you have your whole ingredient list, more or less.
A last note on the nutritional value – peas boast plenty of iron, magnesium, potassium (more than half your RDI per 100 grams dried), calcium and zink. A big bowl will also score you a bunch of good carbohydrates, and you can boost the meal by having bread and toppings of your choice on the side. Soup has generally a bad reputation as athlete food, but we think this is an exception to that. That term ‘superfood’ that they’re throwing around… peas should just go win that race.
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4 1/4 cups dried yellow peas, 1 3/4 lbs
3 liters water (for soaking)
1 tbsp salt (for soaking)
3 tbsp canola oil
2 leeks, halved and sliced thin, 1 1/4 lbs
3 medium carrots, finely chopped, 1 lb
2.5 liters water
4 sprigs thyme
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable bullion
1 tbsp lemon juice
Black pepper and salt (approx. 1 tbsp) to taste
The day before: place the peas and 1 tbsp salt in a pot and fill up with the 3 liters of water. Let soak overnight. When you’re ready to start cooking the following day, begin by draining the peas in a colander and set aside. In the pot, over medium heat, sauté sliced leek in canola oil, approx. 5 min. Then, add garlic and carrots and continue cooking for another 10 min. Add the peas, the 2 1/2 liters of water, thyme (you can tie the sprigs together using kitchen twine, to make it easier to remove later) and bouillon, and bring to a boil.
Let simmer over low heat for about 1 1/2 hrs, stirring every now and then. When the peas are cooked through, turn off the heat. Remove the thyme. Using a stick blender, blend until the consistency is chunky (you don’t want to go too far). Season with salt and black pepper, and stir in lemon juice. Serve with a drizzle of yogurt and garnish with a little bit of fresh thyme.