Those of you who follow my Twitter feed have probably read about the detox I've been following for the past week or so. I plan on going into a bit more detail about it in the coming week (complete with the full menu plan in case you'd like to try it out yourself), but for now I thought I'd share one of my favorite recipes from the plan: Split-Pea soup with a delicious garlic and smoked paprika yogurt dressing.
Unlike my usual bacon-infused soups, this one is made detox-friendly with vegetable broth as a base. In terms of numbers, it's much lighter than the traditional soups made with ham hocks, but that's where the differences end. The secret to this richly flavored dish is the yogurt swirl; a blend of smoked paprika, garlic, and Greek yogurt, it gives the soup the perfect amount of spice and depth. The smokiness of the paprika is reminiscent of that you'd get from bacon or a smoked ham hock, but with just a little extra spice. From a nutritional standpoint (if you're into that sort of thing) this soup is packed with protein, thiamine, folate, manganese, and a whopping 50% of your daily dietary fiber requirement. It's also a great source for those good complex carbs and carries a low glycemic load, meaning that it won't cause your body to go into post-lunch carb-crash. And given the crazy freeze that's been covering most of the US lately, I can imagine that a good soup recipe will go over well.
The yogurt dressing is also a nutrition powerhouse. The yogurt is a great source of calcium and live active cultures (the benefits of which Jamie Lee Curtis actively touts). Garlic is a powerful antioxidant that goes to work on all those free radicals, plus it's been thought to help lower cholesterol and boost the immune system against colds. Even the paprika does more than just hang out being delicious--some studies show that it can help normalize blood pressure, improve circulation, and increase the production of saliva and stomach acids to aid digestion. It's also unusually high in Vitamin C! This recipe will make a few cups of this dressing--certainly more than you'll want for the soup, but be sure to save it and experiment with it in other ways. I've found that it's great over salad, served with plain broiled salmon, or even spread on thin rye crisps. My favorite, however, is serving it alongside a big plate of oven-crisped sweet potato slices. I swear, it blows chips and dip way out of the water!
I used boxed vegetable broth for this soup and would certainly encourage you to do the same. It's a low-sodium variety that I've found both on Fresh Direct and Whole Foods. Of course, you can use your own homemade broth, or even bouillon cubes. Just make sure they're low-sodium. One of the key parts of the detox was cutting salt, and though I was reticent at first, I really didn't miss it that much once I did. The soup and dressing are rich with flavor thanks to the herbs and aromatics, and I've learned that a squeeze or two of lemon can help to "wake up" flavors in food much the same way that salt does.
Vegetarian Split-Pea Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups dried split green peas (picked over for stones and rinsed)
1 teaspoon ground coriander (you can also use crushed whole seeds)
1 teaspoon marjoram
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 cups vegetable broth
Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook for two minutes until soft and just slightly caramelized.
Add the peas, coriander, and marjoram, and stir to combine and coat evenly.
Add the vegetable broth, salt, and sprigs of thyme.
Bring up to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the peas are soft and fully-cooked.
Use a spoon to remove the twigs left from the thyme. Then using an immersion blender, slowly process the soup until it is completely smooth. (You can also ladle the soup in portions into a blender or food processor if you don't have an immersion blender, but be careful as the steam can push the blender cover off.)
Serve with a swirl of the Smoky Garlic Yogurt dressing (recipe below). (To obtain the swirl effect like in the photos, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the dressing into a pastry bag or a Ziploc baggie, snip the tip, and starting from the center, swirl a design onto the soup.)
Smoky Garlic Yogurt Dressing
2 cups plain strained Greek yogurt (such as Fage)
4 large garlic gloves (peeled and crushed slightly)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon smoked spanish paprika (Pimenton)
Combine all incredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days.