Friday, December 10, 2010

Italian-flavored Split Pea Soup with Lemon and Dried Tomatoes


Darn it was cold this morning. When we left the house it was 26 degrees outside. When does spring get here again? ;-) We haven’t had any measurable snow yet I am already looking forward to the season changing. Something tells me it is going to be a very long winter.

This morning we were both back to the gym. Woo hoo! My knee was still not 100% but I didn’t want to get out of the habit of getting up and going to the gym early so I went. I ended up spending more time on the elliptical than I would like. That machine has such a weird motion for me but it doesn’t bother my knee so I stayed on it longer than usual. I tried the treadmill but could only tolerate a 5 degree incline. *ugh* My calorie burn today was not what I wanted but it could have been worse I guess. ;-) I am going to focus on the fact that my knee is improving and try not to overdo it and cause myself to take longer to recover. I have had a bad knee for a long time so I know how far I can push it, or not push it I should say.

When we got back from the gym a hot bowl of oatmeal sounded appropriate given the frosty weather outside. No surprise our oatmeal this morning had frozen wild blueberries, cinnamon, ginger, ground flaxseed and chopped walnuts.

Lunch was nothing exciting for either of us. I packed the end of the chickpea soup in Dan’s lunch along with an orange and some trail mix. This didn’t look like enough food to me which is why I asked him to buy something downtown to go with it. There are a few places very close to his office when he can pick up quick vegan food. None are vegan restaurants but it is still easy to make one or two modifications and get something fairly healthy and vegan. He ended up ordering steamed veggies with cashews from the Chinese restaurant across the street.

My lunch was a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I had marinated mushrooms, roasted parsnips, baked sweet potato with salsa, grapes, a banana and reduced fat peanut butter. Since nothing was prepared I just picked from what was in the refrigerator. While I would never feed Dan this way even though I eat like this more often than I should.

Since we were out of soup again I got some split green peas soaking while I did other things today. After the lentil soaking experiment worked out so well I thought why not soak green split peas and see what happens. Like usual I had no idea exactly what I was going to add to the soup. Initially I was thinking of adding light coconut milk but decided that since we had that in the soup earlier this week we didn’t need more saturated fat. As you may have guessed I don’t think coconut milk should be used often. While I know some bloggers claim the medium-chain fatty acids are good for you I haven’t found any hard science to back that up. That is why I use small amounts of reduced fat coconut milk and not often.

Once the coconut milk was out I decided to return to my roots and make something Italian flavored. I wanted a soup that was fairly clean but had a lot of flavor. Here is what I did:

Italian-flavored Green Split Pea Soup with Lemon and Dried Tomatoes
Serves 6


1 pound dried split green peas, soaked for 8 hours (or so)
water necessary to keep the liquid in the soup just above the solids while cooking
10 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 bay leaves
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon liquid smoke (enough to add a slight smoky background as though the soup had a few slices of bacon) - this is optional and could be omitted
12 dehydrated Roma tomatoes, soaked to making chopping easier (substitute sun-dried tomatoes if you don’t have the dehydrated tomatoes)
½ cup raw cashews & ½ cup water pureed in your blender until smooth (I used my Vitamix for this)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Combine the ingredients from split peas through liquid smoke and simmer until the beans and veggies are tender. This will take approximately 30 minutes but cooking the soup longer will help the flavor.

Chop the tomatoes as finely as you can and add them to the soup. Cook these at least 5 minutes before proceeding.

Add the pureed raw cashews, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and add the fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 229.92
Calories From Fat (16%) - 36.83

Total Fat - 4.4g
Saturated Fat - 0.75g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 51.74mg
Potassium - 903.61mg
Total Carbohydrates - 38.07g
Fiber - 13.3g
Sugar - 8.49g
Protein - 13.12g


When it is cold outside I crave food with a bit more fat which is why I added the raw cashew cream to the base. The cashews don’t add an overwhelming richness but just enough to know it is there. I added the tomatoes for lycopene and for occasional small pops of tomato flavor. The liquid smoke is a light background note. If you want a more dominant smokiness you will need to add more liquid smoke. I thought too much smoke would dominate and I wanted the lemon to shine in this soup. The parsley was added at the end for freshness as well as the nutrition.

If you want to change the soup you could add dried mushrooms, diced potatoes, diced turnip, and diced parsnip. This soup could also be changed completely by altering the seasonings.

I served this soup over quinoa. I added the quinoa for additional calories and because it is a complete protein. Dan is not particularly fond of split peas but this must have been pretty good since between us we ate 4 of the 6 servings for dinner. Yes, we thought it was that good. ;-)

Dinner was delayed a little this evening because Dan needed to make an appearance at a holiday gathering. Like usual there was not much he could or wanted to eat off the appetizer table. Good thing he knew there was healthy food waiting for him at home.

After dinner I made Dan a batch of strawberry banana soft serve to make certain he had enough calories for the day. I always worry that Dan doesn’t eat enough. We don’t want him losing any weight since he is right where he should be though our friends think he is too thin. I still contend they think Dan is too thin because the majority of America is overweight, but that is just my opinion.

Book Review: American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Nutrition for Cancer Survivors (second edition)

This is the latest book I have read from the library. It was an interesting read and mostly a rehash of other things I have seen previously. I was a bit shocked that a mainstream establishment like the American Cancer Society would admit that diet matters for cancer patients. You will not be shocked to hear they didn’t go far enough for me but in their defense they went further than I expected.

There recommendations for cancer survivors are:

• Adopt a physically active lifestyle with moderate activity of at least 30 minutes 5 times a week.
• Consume a healthy low fat diet emphasizing a variety of plants (fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes).
• If you drink alcohol limit your consumption to no more than one drink per day for women, two for men.

The book is outlined as follows:

1. Healthy Eating
2. Making Informed Decisions
3. Hot Topics in Nutrition and Cancer
4. How Food is Grown and Treated
5. Dietary Supplements: Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs
6. Diet and Nutrition Therapies Promoted as Treatments and Cures
7. Preparing for Cancer Treatment
8. Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
9. Coping With Treatment-Related Fatigue
10. Strengthening Your Immune System
11. Staying Hydrated
12. Coping with Changes in Eating and Digestion
13. Lifestyle Choices to Enhance Health for Cancer Survivorship
14. Resource Guide

One point that I wanted to share was the notion that cancer patients have higher protein needs than other people. According to this book healthy people need 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight and cancer patient needs 0.5 grams. For women this works out to about 50 grams per day and 60 grams for men. The reason I wanted to mention this is that these numbers are much lower than what most Americans now eat. *scratches head*

Overall I think it is a good book and worth reading. However I would recommend you get it from the library before buying it. If you have a lot of other nutrition books in your library you may not need to purchase this one.

Happy Thoughts:

Thursday was a really good for day for me. Here are my happy thoughts:

• Thursday I was very thankful to have no errands that I needed to run in our the frigid weather.

• The split pea soup I made was particularly tasty while still being healthy. I love it when a healthy dish also tastes great.

• It is wonderful that my knee is improving. While it is bugging me to take it easy at the gym I know it is for the best and won’t need to stay this way much longer.

• I love that it is almost the weekend. I look forward to my weekends every week. Dan and I have some fun planned this weekend that I can’t wait to share with you. In the interest of anticipation I am going to keep the details quiet until after the event. I will fill you in afterward.  ;-)

• Friday morning we were back to the gym. I still took it easy but everything went well and I got my cardio done. Darn I really dislike the elliptical, LOL.

Signing out:

Since today is Friday you all know what that means by now. I need to run a few errands, check on my elderly parents, do a little light housekeeping for them and get ready for the weekend for us. Talk to you all again soon. I hope everyone has a great Friday.


  1. Ok, that soup looks seriously delicious. YUM. I love dried tomatoes. Even after rehydrating, I love the texture they have. As for the elliptical, I share you hatred of that machine. I will say that doing intervals definitely helped pass the time though. Happy Friday! (and stay warm)

  2. Heather,

    We both really loved this soup. Not really sure why, I guess it was just a good combination. Glad I wrote down the ingredients, LOL.

    The elliptical and I just can't make friends. I used it again this morning but I didn't enjoy it. ;-)

    Happy Friday to you too!

  3. Was looking forward to seeing the recipe since you tweeted about it last night. Did not disappoint! The most unique split pea soup I have ever seen. Also I am super jealous right now that I didn't get off my tush and dehydrate tomatoes for the winter!

  4. Sarah,

    Aww, thanks! I am glad you like the sound of the soup. We both really enjoyed it so much so in fact it is gone. I think that is a very good sign, LOL.

    I am enjoying my dehydrated tomatoes. But as many as I made (about 100 pounds) I don't think it was enough. We will see how long they last.

    I hope you are having a great Friday and have fun plans for the weekend,

  5. You know, it's about 3:30 here and I'm starting to get hungry for an afternoon snack. I wish I had a cup of that soup!

  6. Bianca,

    Thanks! The soup was very well received here. I may have to make something similar very soon.

    I get hungry mid-afternoon too. Nice to know it isn't just me. ;-)


  7. I'm glad your knee is better!

    I hear it is snowing there now. Our corporate office is located in Baltimore. It was 19 when I walked outside this morning...brrrr :o)

    I have to tell do make some of the best looking soups! I have a long list of your soup recipes that I want to make. I just need to be home long enough to make them. :o)

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  8. Michelle,

    In true Baltimore fashion your office closed for no reason. Snow was falling this afternoon but didn't last long. I just looked out the window the snow didn't even cover the grass. LOL, Baltimoreans are true snow wimps and this is coming from one of them. ;-)

    I do seem to be becoming the queen of soup lately, LOL. I guess that is because it is cold and soup is all I want. I will try to break out of the soup rut soon. ;-) This one was really good. Dan and I both enjoyed it so much it is gone. Considering he doesn't like split pea I think that says it all.

    Ouch, 19 degree is ridiculously cold. Stay warm!

    I hope you enjoy your weekend too,

  9. I am sorry you don't like the elliptical! What is it that you don't like about it? There are lots of different kinds/styles of elliptical...does your gym have more than one?


  10. Courtney,

    Our gym does have more than one type/brand of elliptical and there is one I dislike less than the others. However even that one I don't like. The motion feels very unnatural to me which I realize is a vague complaint. I am just a strange girl. ;-)


  11. The soup looks so delicious. I dig!!
    Peace :)

  12. Chandra,

    We really enjoyed this and I think it was the lemon that took it over the top but I am not positive. It had a robust flavor yet it wasn't overpowering if that makes any sense. I hope you like it as much as we did.


  13. The soup sounds great!

    As for coconut milk, I agree there isn't enough evidence to show coconut fat is particularly good for you (unless you're aiming at something specific - it may have use in the treatment of some infections). However, it's not bad either, other than the high calories. But coconut milk also tends to make food super satiating, so I think it balances it out.

  14. M,

    This soup is good I don't think it suffered at all from the lack of coconut milk. In fact it turned out well that I decided to go another way.

    The overall fat in coconut milk doesn't concern me it is the saturated fat. Anyone that has or had cancer is more prone to cardiac events. In my mind that makes all sat fat something to keep to a minimum for us. But I do agree it adds a nice flavor and mouth feel to food.



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