You’d think I’d prepare soups more often considering how much I enjoy them at restaurants, including simple ones like the hot and sour soup at Banana Leaves Cafe and the hearty vegan gumbo formerly on the menu at Eatonville Restaurant and the exotic Santorini soup made with a puree of fava beans and butternut squash, sultans and marinated mushrooms at Zaytinya. Instead, I tend to cook soups for occasions, like Thanksgiving dinner, winter soup parties, and mood swings, as in when the mood hits me.
The sporadic spring temperatures here in D.C., 90 degrees one day and 60 degrees the next, put me in such a mood. While I pride myself on cooking largely from scratch, as a single mom who works full time, I can appreciate short cuts in the kitchen. On this particular day, I wanted to make soup in the 22 minutes before my daughters got home. So I opened the pantry in search of some soup that my neighbor Che Che had given me weeks before. I found two cans of Trader Joe’s wholesome, vegan, and BLAND split pea soup. In my house of four hungry people, I needed to doctor and stretch these 28.2 ozs of bland split pea soup. To doctor them, I broke out the cutting board and grabbed some garlic and small onions, also compliments of Che Che. I decided to use a dried, smoked jalapeno, aka a chipotle pepper, to give the soup that smokey flavor that would normally come from ham. In addition to the sweet potato, I thought, what would compliment the heat? It occured to me, something sweet. I cut an apple in half, peeled and coarsely chopped it, but I did not discard the peel. Instead, finely chopped apple peel served as the garnish for this super flavorful soup. I added a little more salt to taste and a little agave to round out the flavor. In about 20 minutes flat, the soup had simmered to perfection, just in time for a text from my daughters saying, “We’re here.”
1/2 cup of water
one medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup onion, coarsely chopped
half of an apple, peeled and coarsely chopped (Keep the peel.)
half of a dried chipotle pepper, pounded (less if you are not a fan of spicy)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Two 14.1 oz cans of Trader Joe’s Organic Split Pea Soup
another 1/2 cup of water
1 teaspoon agave nectar
Add 1/2 cup of water along with a metal steamer basket to a medium pot with a tightly fitting lid. While the water comes to a boil, peel and cube the medium sweet potato. Add the potato cubes to the steamer basket, replace the lid, and allow to steam until tender.
In another medium pot, gently heat 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped garlic, onions, and apple. Pound half of a chipotle pepper and add it to the pot and cook until fragrant. Add the salt and stir the mixture well. Add the cubed sweet potato and stir some more. Add the cans of soup. Using half a cup of water, rinse the residue from both cans and add this water to the soup. Lastly, stir in the agave. Let simmer on medium high heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Enjoy in a beautiful bowl with your favorite bread or crackers!