Continuing the theme of hearty, warming recipes, today I’ve got one of my favourite soup recipes for you – spiced yellow split pea and sweetcorn soup; it is really healthy, full of protein and vegetables, incredibly delicious, and because of the split peas it is also very filling. I make it regularly over the colder months when I am in need of a nutritious yet comforting and filling meal, and it’s bright, sunny yellow colour is sure to brighten up a gloomy day.
It is easy to make, though the split peas do take a while to cook, that is all hands off time though so it’s not like you are chained to the stove. The spiced element is a mixture of cayenne pepper, pimento (also known as allspice) and red chilli; the heat of the chilli you use is entirely up to you, use a medium hot one if you just want a hint of heat, or go for a scotch bonnet if you like things spicier. If you use a scotch bonnet you can also add it to the soup whole rather than chopped so that you get the flavour without so much heat (remember to remove it before blending the soup though!). The addition of creamy coconut milk helps to temper the spice, along with the sweetness from sweetcorn and sweet potato so the flavour of the soup is perfectly balanced. The soup keeps well in the fridge or freezer so can easily be made in advance and reheated when needed.
Soup is never complete without something to dunk in it, and to serve with spiced yellow split pea and sweetcorn soup I like to make cheesy arepas, which are little fried corn cakes stuffed with cheese. When I lived in Colombia they were one of my favourite regional foods and eating them now takes me right back to South America (the bowls in the photos are also from Colombia). You need to find masarepa to make them, which is a kind of pre-cooked white cornmeal; the most common brand, and the one that I use, is harina PAN. In the UK it is sold in larger Tesco’s and can easily be found online. Traditionally they would be filled with queso fresco/casero/blanco but really you can use any cheese you like; mozzarella, feta and cheddar all work well. They are crisp on the outside and soft in the middle and totally addictive, especially when they are filled with cheese; and are perfect for dunking into hot soup.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 250g (8oz) yellow split peas, rinsed well
- 1.5 litres (6 + ¼ cups) vegetable stock
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 400ml can full fat coconut milk
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (use scotch bonnet if you're feeling brave)
- 2 cobs fresh corn, each cut into 4 slices
- 400g (14oz) (weight after peeling) sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 large or two medium red peppers, seeded and diced
- ¼ tsp ground pimento/allspice
- 250g (8oz) frozen sweetcorn
- extra coconut milk/sour cream, thyme, chilli and ground allspice to finish
- 200g (7oz) masarepa
- ½ tsp salt
- 300ml (1 + ¼ cups) water
- vegetable oil for cooking
- about 150g (5oz) cheese (mozzarella/queso fresco/cheddar), sliced
- Heat the oil in a large pan and gently cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes until soft. Add the cayenne pepper, split peas and the stock, bring to a boil, boil rapidly for 10 minutes then turn the heat down, add the thyme sprigs, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the split peas are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Add the coconut milk, chilli, sweetcorn slices, potato, pepper, allspice and frozen sweetcorn. Season and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove the thyme and sweetcorn slices; using a stick blender, pulse a few times until about half of the soup is blended, you want a chunky texture so don't blend it until it is smooth. Alternatively, place half of the soup in a blender, blend until smooth then return to the pan. The soup should be quite thick but you can thin it with a little extra stock if preferred.
- Return the sweetcorn to the pan, serve the soup topped with a swirl of coconut milk or sour cream and a sprinkling of thyme leaves, chilli and allspice.
- Combine the masarepa and salt in a bowl, stir in the water to make a soft dough then set aside for about 20 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal sized balls then use your fingers to flatten each ball into a circle about 1cm thick, the dough is quite crumbly and difficult to work with but if you find it is too dry you can add a little extra water.
- Place a large, heavy frying pan over a medium heat and brush with a little vegetable oil; cook the arepas for about 5 minutes per side until lightly browned and blistered.
- Cut a slit in each arepa and fill with cheese, return to the pan for a few minutes until the cheese has melted. Best served fresh.
I am sharing this with Saucy Saturdays hosted by The Flavour Bender, Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef and Mid-Life Croissant, Fiesta Friday hosted by Hostess At Heart and Too Zesty, Foodie FriDIY, Foodie Friends Friday and Friday Features