On a cold winter’s day, a hot bowl of smooth split pea soup with a few croutons thrown in hits the spot like nothing else.
Soak the split peas in cold water overnight. Discard the water and rinse. While many recipes indicate that it is not necessary to soak split peas, I find that pre-soaking them produces a less starchy, more digestible soup that is also easier to make since it cooks faster and doesn’t stick as much to the saucepan. You could, however, skip this step, but you should at least rinse the split peas.
Heat 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the spices and chopped coriander stems and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the rinsed peas and cover them with about three-quarters of the water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat. Simmer for 1½ hours or more, until the peas are soft and naturally disintegrate into a purée. Skim and discard any scum that rises to the top as you go. Check regularly that the peas are not sticking to the bottom of the pot; if they start to catch, turn off the heat. After a few minutes, the stuck (but hopefully not burnt) layer should come away easily with a spatula and you can then resume simmering the soup. Blend the soup with a hand blender until smooth. Add as much of the remaining water as needed, and more if necessary, to achieve the desired consistency. Add the vinegar, remaining oil, sugar, salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Finely chop the coriander leaves, then scatter over the soup. Drop 1 tablespoon of yoghurt or sour cream in each bowl, then add a few croutons.
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