If the flavors of this soup remind you slightly of hummus, know that you're not far off. Joyce Goldstein explains in Cooking with Les Dames D'Escoffier that this recipe was inspired by a spread she encountered in Greece. Realizing that customers at her restaurant would more likely order soup than a spread, she thinned it out, managing to still keep the flavors much the same. Though there are only a few ingredients, this soup has a surprising amount of depth and character.
The only I issue I had was whether or not to cover the pot during the cooking process. The recipe doesn't say to but does note that you might need to add more water or stock at the end to thin it out to a soup-like consistency. I expected to add a few tablespoons, but ended up needing to add quite a lot to prevent from ending up much like a spread.
This recipe takes a little over an hour, which I try to avoid for a weeknight meal. Fortunately, the vast majority of that time is spent relaxing while the split peas simmer along.
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cups diced yellow onion (from about one large onion)
- 16 ounces yellow split peas, rinsed
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 lemons
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
Add the cumin seeds to a small skillet set over medium heat. Toast until very fragrant, about one minute. Turn off the heat, and grind the cumin in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
Pour three tablespoons of the oil into a large saucepan set over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the two cups of diced yellow onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and soft, about eight minutes.
Add the ground cumin, stir well, and cook for about a minute. Then add the yellow split peas and the broth. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the split peas are falling apart, about one hour.
While the soup is cooking, zest one of the lemons. You need about one teaspoon of zest. Then juice both lemons until you have two tablespoons.
Puree the soup either in a blender or with an immersion blender. If you used the blender, pour the mixture back in the saucepan. Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir well. If needed, thin the soup with water or more broth.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with the diced red onion and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.