Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spring Inspired Two Pea Soup with Artichokes

Since I had no idea what today was going to bring I decided to make a very simple soup. I liked the idea of making something that required little attention from me. Soup is always a great low involvement dish. Both lentils and split peas are fast cooking and provide a good amount of protein as well as being filling. I decided green split peas would be a good choice for today. We picked up some fresh shelled peas at the farmers’ market this morning. I thought I wanted to include both dried and fresh peas since it is hot outside after all. Artichokes always make me think of spring too and they go so well with peas I knew I wanted to add them to the soup. I also added a few raw cashews to mimic cream and add a little of the “fatty mouth feel” that I thought the soup needed.

I get a lot of questions about how I develop recipes. This is actually much easier than you think. In many cases I am replicating omni recipes I have eaten or made in the past. But when I don’t have a particular recipe in mind but I do have an ingredient I want to use I turn to Culinary Artistry. This is book that I have used for years. It is probably the most used book in my cookbook connection. For almost every ingredient you can think of the book gives a list of things that go with that ingredient. For example for peas the book lists: almonds, artichokes, bacon, butter, carrots, chervil, chives, cream, fennel, garlic, ham, leeks, lemon, lettuce, mint, mushrooms, nutmeg, onions, parsley, prosciutto, rice, risotto, rosemary, sage, salt pork, savory, shallots, sugar and vinegar. The artichokes, chives and cream jumped out to me. I almost used mushrooms too but they remind me of cold weather dishes so I left those out today. Here is what I made for lunch:

Spring Inspired Two Pea Soup with Artichokes
Serves 4 generously


1 ½ cups split peas, dry
7 cups water
2 cups yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating so allicin can develop)
½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
10 ounces frozen defrosted artichokes cut into pieces that will fit on a spoon
1 cup cooked wheat berries (I cooked these yesterday and had them in the frig)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 lemon, zested and juiced
¼ cup chives, finely minced
salt and pepper, to taste


Combine the split peas, water, onion, and garlic and bring the pot to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Now taste to see if the split peas are soft. If the split peas are soft add the cashews and puree the soup using an immersion blender or your regular blender. Return the pureed soup and fennel seeds to the pot and bring it back to simmer. Add the wheat berries and peas just before serving. You only need them to warm up. Check the texture of the soup; you may need to add liquid to thin it out a little. When you are ready to serve turn off the heat add the lemon juice, and reserve the lemon zest to top the soup. Stir most of the chives into the soup reserving a few for garnish. Top the soup with chives and lemon zest.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 353.35
Calories From Fat (15%) - 52.78

Total Fat-  6.32g
Saturated Fat - 1.1g
Cholesterol-  0mg
Sodium - 129.98mg
Potassium - 973.2mg
Total Carbohydrates-  60.57g
Fiber - 18.99g
Sugar - 9.61g
Protein - 19.52g


This soup is light in flavor. The fennel is intentionally subtle so that it would not overwhelm the pea flavor. We thought the flavor was complex and blended well. It was a good compromise between a hearty and light soup. The soup is very filling and makes a meal with a side salad.  The wheat berries add a nice chewiness that I like. Adding the fresh peas at the last minute keeps them tender so they still have that fresh pop.  Even Dan, who isn't crazy about split pea soup, enjoyed this and said it was very good. 

Each serving of soup contains approximately 1,60IU of vitamin A, 110mg of calcium, 190mg of folate, 320mg phosphorus, 120mg magnesium, and 16mcg of selenium.

Unrelated Note:

To go with the soup I made a quick salad of julienned bok choy and spinach with diced mango. I dressed that with a miso and mirin dressing. While I am certain Dr. Fuhrman would think the salad had too much sodium we enjoyed it. Since I don’t add salt to most of our food unless I am using miso or a little liquid aminos I think our overall sodium intake is fine.

I have no idea what I am making for dinner tonight. I will depend on what we are in the mood to eat later. As you have noticed I have been in a mango mood the last two days. I really love mangos, probably more than I should. ;-) We bought a dozen mangos a few days ago with the intention of freezing some of them but at the rate we are going through them they may be gone soon. I had planned to try to make some mango sorbet using frozen mango chunks. Have any of the Vitamix owners made mango sorbet, how did it turn out? I have the feeling it will get rich and creamy like banana soft serve.

I am going to go sip my tea and read more in my new nutrition book. With a little luck I will be finished reading “Nutrition in Clinical Practice” in the next few days. When I do I will write up a review. So far it is a very good read.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Talk to you soon


  1. The soup sounds great. Love the explanation of where your inspiration comes from. It's always interesting to find out where people get their ideas from. Mine typically come from so many of the recipes I read (books, magazines, blogs). I never cooked much when I still ate meat (I was in my teens) and don't have any recipes that I would kill to have again (other than maybe the family recipe for the meatballs, which I have replicated fairly well with a meat sub product).

  2. Heather,

    I think you would like this soup, even with the fennel. ;-)

    As much as you love to cook I think you would use Culinary Artistry all the time. You should see if your library has it. I highly recommend the book. I think my cooking fairly complex omni food for so many years helps me tremendously when it comes to healthy vegan food. Reading recipes seems to work very well for you. I always think your dishes are very creative. :-)

    Is your meatball recipe on your blog? You have appealed to my Italian side. ;-)

    talk to you soon,

  3. Nope, never posted the recipe. I actually haven't make the "meatballs" in ages. I used the gimme lean "beef" flavor. But I think there has to be a better, less refined way to go.

  4. Heather,

    Glad I asked before started looking for the recipe on your blog. ;-)

    I make an eggplant "meatball" that is pretty good. But haven't made those since since summer or possibly the year before. I will play around with that soon so I can post it. That may work for your meatball seasoning and is clearly less processed.

    talk to you soon,

  5. Looks amazing. I have cooked with artichokes. That is one of my goals for the summer. They don't grow in Minnesota, I don't think. Do you think you will ever get a Vitamix? I haven't yet.

  6. Megan,

    I have had a Vitamix for about 5 years and I love it. I highly recommend them! I try not to use it all the time since I know not everyone has them. But if you are considering it I say do it when your current blender gives up. You won't be disappointed.

    Artichokes are easy to cook but time consuming to clean. Italians love them so I have been using them for years. It is much easier to buy the frozen ones. I think you are right about artichokes not growing in Minnesota.

    talk to you later,

  7. Lisa,

    Thanks, we liked the flavor combination. :-)


  8. I love pea soup, but rarely think about using wheat berries, what a good addition.

  9. Janet,

    I liked the wheat berries in this, it added a nice little chew to the soup. Normally I used wheat berries for cold salads in place of rice or pasta. Wheat berries are also good in chili and as a stand in for meat.



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