Given that I’ve spent a lifetime eating things that began with a garlic-ginger paste, it’s a little surprising that I only have one recipe that calls for it on this site. Well maybe not that surprising, since I haven’t quite lived up to my goal of cooking more Indian food … So today, I bring you an Indian recipe courtesy of
my mom my aunt my grandmother Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.
Vegetable soups are my thing. While a nice chicken soup can hit the spot when I’ve got the flu, I’m all about the cauliflower (or tomato or white beans) pureed until thick and smooth, spiced up ever so slightly but allowing those delicious veggies to shine. So it’s no surprise that when I saw Heidi’s delicious and super easy recipe for pea soup, spiced with flavors I grew up with, I had to make it.
Clearly fate was on my side, as my boss gave me a stick blender at work one day because she had two. They make life much easier, as who wants to clean a blender? (Also, blending hot soups is very dangerous and there are always safety disclaimers in recipes and as an incredibly accident-prone person, it’s maybe good that I avoid this whenever possible.)
Heidi uses frozen peas, so I blindly followed. Since peas are in season now, it might be nice to try this soup with freshly shelled peas, if you have the patience to sit there and shell a pound’s worth of peas. If you go the frozen route, the soup takes less than 15 minutes to make, perfect for a busy weeknight. It tastes even better after sitting for a few hours, when the ginger and garlic and chilis and cumin have melded together with the sweet peas. Topped with salty feta cheese, the soup is a perfect lunch — or I hope it will be, since that will be my lunch for the next week.
Indian-Spiced Pea Soup
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
– 3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
– 10 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
– 2 serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
– 3 tablespoons canola oil (the original recipe calls for ghee [clarified butter] or sunflower oil but I used what I could find)
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/2 medium onion, chopped
– 4 cups water (can use vegetable or chicken stock, if you have it)
– 16 ounces frozen peas (or the equivalent, fresh and shelled)
– 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– salt and pepper, to taste
– crumbled feta, paneer or halloumi cheese to garnish (optional)
1) Use a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle to combine the ginger, garlic, chilies, cumin and 3 tablespoons of water into a paste.
2) In a large saucepan, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to pop, add the bay leaves and saute for 1 minute. Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown slightly. Stir in the garlic-ginger paste and cook for an additional minute.
3) Add the water or stock and stir well; heat until the soup begins to boil. Add the peas and simmer for 5 minutes, until the peas are bright green and slightly “al dente.”
4) Remove the soup from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Add the salt and pepper, then puree using a stick blender(!). Alternately, allow the soup to cool for 10 minutes, then pour into a regular blender. Cover (use a kitchen towel — don’t touch the blender directly) and blend for a few minutes, until the soup is smooth. Serve with crumbled cheese and a pinch of cumin, if desired.