This is a warming, satisfying, high fiber, low fat soup. Perfect comfort food. If you do use a shiitake mushroom garnish, remember to wipe them over rather than rinse them before cooking. I find that regular white mushrooms don’t change when quickly rinsed in water just before use, but the shiitake mushrooms take on an unpleasant texture if rinsed first.
1 lb yellow split peas, picked over for debris and rinsed
1/2 – 1 oz dried mushrooms, picked over for debris
1/2 large onion, diced
2 tsp canola oil
2 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt (smokey salt makes a nice variation)
1/4 tsp pepper
squeeze of lemon juice (~2 tsp)
dash of cayenne (optional)
shiitake mushrooms, oil/margarine, salt for fried mushroom garnish (optional)
Put the split peas and dried mushrooms in a large saucepan with water to cover by an inch. Bring the lot to a boil, turn off the heat, put on a lid, and leave to soak for an hour or more.
If the mushrooms looked as if they might have had some dust on them, pour the soaking liquid off the split peas and mushrooms into a jug, then strain the liquid through a piece of muslin or a piece of kitchen paper lining a sieve, back onto the peas. This is to remove grit from the mushrooms but retain the mushroom soaking water which contains a lot of flavor.
Fry the onion over medium heat in a large saucepan with the canola oil until softened and brown.
Add the garlic, and heat through for a couple of minutes.
Turn the onion mixture into the split pea mixture, and bring the lot up to a gentle boil. Cook until the split peas start to disintegrate (20 minutes or so, depending on how long you soaked the beans, and how old they are).
Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
Adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and a dash of cayenne if liked. Garnish with sauted, sliced, fresh shiitake mushrooms, if desired.