I nick-named my maternal Grandmother, 'Pea-Soup Grandma', as she always made a batch of her special pea soup when I came to visit. I'm under the impression that this officially qualifies me as a connoisseur, and I must say this vegetarian version holds it own against traditional recipes that gather their flavor from ham.
Nutritionally this legume is great for Pittas & Kaphas, although Vatas may enjoy them as well, as long as they soak, cook, and spice appropriately. They are astringent in taste, cooling to the body, and catabolic in post-digestive effect. Green peas are high in fiber, contains five important minerals, and three B-vitamins. This recipe makes this legume even more vata friendly with the addition of smoked paprika and smoked salt, as well as hing.
If you're not using hing (asafoetida) in your bean/lentil cooking yet, you're missing out. This natural resin, from a variety of Middle Eastern fennel, is used extensively in Indian cooking to add to essence of onion and garlic to a dish, while acting as a carminative (an herb that lessens gas formation). While I was introduced to hing in Ayurvedic cooking, I now use it anywhere that the airy effects of vata-genic foods are a concern, mainly in my bean and lentil dishes. The key with hing is to use small amounts - most recipes call for just a pinch!
2 cups dried, organic, split green peas
1 yellow onion, quartered and sliced
1 Tbs organic ghee
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp himalayan salt
1/8 tsp hing/asafoetida
6 cups filtered water
smoked salt, to taste (this is optional, but really completes the flavor profile)
I begin by sautéing the onion in the pot I'll be cooking in. For soups like this, I like to use enameled cast iron. After the onions have begun to brown, add the smoked paprika and sauté the spice with the onion for less than a minute. Add the rinsed peas, water, hing, and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer.
I find the cooking time on the peas varies depending on the batch, but plan for 1-2 hours of simmering - until the peas are falling apart. Add water as needed to obtain your desired consistency. Add smoked salt to obtain your desired smokiness. Once peas begin are soft, blend soup to your desired texture. I blend it about half way using an immersion blender.
Serve this soup with a pinch of smoked paprika or smoked salt as garnish and enjoy a satisfying bowl of soup that won't weigh you down or increase kapha. Enjoy!