Under the weather—apparently a naval expression, pertaining to sailors who were sent below the deck to recover from sickness–is an apt way to describe my recent state. Making soup demanded all the culinary energy I had to muster.
I’m unwaveringly loyal to my carrot, ginger and split pea concoction. My devotion to the glop knows no bounds: it’s hearty, warming and utterly restorative. (It also nicely deals with the bendy carrots that have been neglected in the veg box.) It is not, however, pretty. No. This soup looks like gruel; and, as my colleague affectionately refers to it, smells like “granny soup”.
I’m not sure my granny ever made soup like this. Perhaps, she dabbled with dried peas and lentils when my mother and uncle were little; I never knew to ask when she was around. She did grow her own carrots; beautiful sweet carrots, which always tasted better freshly picked than at the table—that generation had a habit of boiling vegetables until they were devoid of texture or flavour; hence the salt. Always a dollop, rather than a pinch, of salt.
It was, in fact, a former flatmate who introduced me to the concept of dried peas, carrot and ginger. Nourishing, tick; economical, tick; delicious, tick. Oh, and very quick and easy to make. Staple fare for these austere times I’m thinking. Instead of ginger you could add chilli flakes, or even harissa paste, and for a richer, sweeter, consistency some coconut milk would be perfect. This time, I left the the soup as originally conceived: packed full of ginger, cumin and coriander.
The only preparation required is to lightly toast the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes in a pan. Then it’s a case of slicing a large Spanish onion; mincing some fresh ginger; roughly chopping as many carrots as you have lurking in the kitchen; and simmering the split peas.
This soup was partially an intervention—I hadn’t been in the kitchen for nigh on a week—and so the boy kindly dragged me from my duvet-addled state and plugged me in at the stove. Small steps. This soup was my baby step. I only had to sauté the onions with the spices and carrots.
And that’s really it. In one pan the peas were boiling, in the other a revitalising aroma of middle eastern spices were emerging; once combined the soup is done. It was, at this point, that the boy stood watch over the bubbling pea concoction, and I sat down ready to digest another serving of Mad Men (fully appreciating, of course, that no Mad Man would be guarding the soup while his other half reclined, resting, on the sofa).
Just before serving, when the consistency of the soup is akin to mud–sticky and thick–I added finely chopped coriander stalk, and then used the leaves and some spring onion for garnish. We ate. I’d made enough to guarantee I could avoid the kitchen for another day, if need be.