Ignorance is Bliss - or - Coconut Split Pea Soup with a Curried Brown Butter Drizzle

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One of my first finds out here in blog land was 101 Cookbooks. Her blog is full of recipes that are often an amazing combination of simple ingredients that work together to yield robust, interesting, and delicious flavors. 

She has been blogging for quite some time now and her second book came out last year.  I had her book along with several others saved in my amazon shopping cart for quite some time.  I try to ration the cookbook purchases.  A couple of weeks ago I was online buying a vacuum filter and as luck would have it I was in need of something to send me over the $25 free shipping limit.  No way Mr. Man could ask why I needed ANOTHER cookbook now...this was plain and simple savings here.  I needed the book to get the free shipping and quite frankly it would be wasteful of me NOT to buy the book.  

This recipe stood out to me right away among the many that I marked to try soon.  I make some form of lentils around here pretty frequently, so I am always on the lookout for a new ideas to add to the lentil repertoire.

Heidi gives you the choice of using green lentils or green split peas for this soup.  She recommends the green split peas for the aesthetic value they add to the end color of the soup. 

I had both on hand and had a small existential crisis trying to choose.  I was pretty convinced that green lentils were significantly healthier than green split peas, but Heidi recommended the green split peas. I wasn't completely sure about the nutritional value so I decided that ignorance was bliss and I would use the green split peas and worry about the health effects later.

Once the soup was done, I was skyping with a friend who also loves Heidi and her blog and told her about my cavalier ignorance on the healthier choice until the soup - and the damage were done.  My friend wisely pointed out that I probably shouldn't stress out about it too much.  It's not like I was having to decide between donuts or lentils.  Wise advice.  I took it and enjoyed several bowls of this soup guilt free. 

You should too.  

P.S. I did eventually get curious and it turns out that green slit peas and green lentils are practically identical nutritionally speaking.

Coconut Split Pea Soup with a Curried Brown Butter Drizzle
serves 4

My version of Heidi's soup is almost identical to hers.  In general my differences involve the use of some amazingly flavorful and hot habanero's from my new favorite spice shop instead of red pepper flakes, the addition of avocados to top it instead of chives which I never seem to have on hand, and swapping out some of the butter for olive oil. 

One last thought.  When choosing the amount of heat to add, consider that you will be adding some amount of the curry powder later.  Indian curry powders have varying levels of heat, so take yours and your personal heat index into consideration.  I thought the soup had the perfect level of heat.  Mr. Man  disputed the fact that anything spicy had been added at all.

For the Soup:
1-2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
up to 1/2 tsp. of heat (habanero flakes, red pepper flakes)
5 1/2 cups watered down vegetable broth (I used one bouillon cube)   
1 1/2 cups green split peas
1/2 cup coconut milk
salt to taste
1 avocado

For the Curried Brown Butter:
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 Tbs. Indian curry powder

Chop the onions and garlic and then heat the olive oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Once it is hot add the onions, garlic, and heat spice of your choice. Continue to cook the onions and stir occasionally until the onions soften.  This should take just a few minutes.

Add the vegetable broth or water and lentils and then simmer until the lentils are tender.  This can take anywhere from 20-50 minutes.  

While the soup is cooking, prepare the Curried Brown Butter.  Put the butter in a small saute pan over low to medium heat.  Continue to hear the butter until it gets brown and smells fragrant.  Once it starts to brown throw the curry powder in and stir.  Continue to cook for another minute or so and then turn off the heat.

Once the lentils are soft turn off the heat.  Pour in the coconut milk. Puree the soup to your desired consistency (thanks mamacita for the immersion blender...I use it ALL THE TIME).   

Stir in half of the curried brown butter and salt to taste.  Serve the soup drizzled with more of the curried brown butter and scoop out a few pieces of avocado to add to the top.


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