SOUPER SKINNY: LIGHT AND LOVELY SPRING AND SPLIT PEA SOUP

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IMG_3844Who doesn’t love Spring? With days growing longer, buds turning into blooms and winter produce giving way to spring’s greens, it’s the season of re-birth and renewal.

But in Southern California–with daily highs hitting 80 and nights dipping to 40–spring is also a season of contradictions. (How else could we explain short-shorts worn with Uggs?)  And for those chilly evenings, here’s a soup that’s hot and hearty but still seasonal and skinny: Light and Lovely Spring and Split Pea Soup.

IMG_3785Dried green split peas–high in fiber, protein, B vitamins and complex carbohydrates–are one of the world’s healthiest foods.  But like all dried legumes, once cooked, they have about 300 calories per cup.

And though turning dried peas into soup made with low fat broth can reduce calories, most recipes for split pea soup also tend to have an obnoxious amount of pork and fat. (Paula Deen’s recipe, for example, calls for bacon and sausage and butter and adds up to 1020 calories and 30 grams of fat per 2 cup serving.…almost two-thirds of the calories an average 5’5 woman should have in a day.)

IMG_3814But by simply dumping the pork, bumping up the other fresh veg–like onions, celery and carrots–and switching out some of the dried legumes for fresh or frozen peas (only 110 calories a cup), you not only drastically cut the calories and heart stopping fats of your standard split pea soup,  it turns out much prettier as well.

IMG_3859All in, this soup had barely more than 100 calories a cup and sacrifices nothing in taste or texture.

So next time you’re feeling a little torn between seasons, try this warm but seasonal spring soup.

It’s not only delicious…it’s also much easier to pull off than short-shorts and Uggs~!

LIGHT AND LOVELY SPRING AND SPLIT PEA SOUP

IMG_3777(yields about 14 cups)

1 1/2 c dried green split peas (make sure they’re still green, if they’re brown they’re old.)

1 1/2 c onion, chopped

1 1/2 c celery, diced

1 1/2 c carrots, diced or shredded (Tip: Because I always have a bag of shredded carrots in the fridge to quickly add to salads, I use them in this recipe to save a few minutes of peeling and chopping.)

2 t garlic, minced

1 t salt

1/2 t red pepper flakes or black pepper (or a combination of both)

1/2 t curry powder

6 c chicken broth

2 c water  (plus up to 2 more to compensate for evaporation during cooking.)

2 1/2 c  fresh or frozen peas (one 12 ounce bag)

2 T minced fresh dill

IMG_3785Rinse dried split peas well in a sieve and sit it over a small bowl filled with water to continue to soften while you start the rest.

Spray the bottom of a non-stick soup pot well with olive oil spray and/or drizzle 1 t of olive oil and swirl to coat.

IMG_3795Add onions, celery, carrot and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes until garlic begins to give off aroma but does not brown.

Sprinkle in salt, pepper, curry powder and the rinsed split peas and stir to coat for a minute.  Pour in the broth and 2 c of water and bring to a full boil.

IMG_3822Reduce heat to medium and maintain a strong simmer until the split peas are tender, about 40 minutes, adding in another cup or two of water as it reduces so that you end up with the same amount of liquid you began with.

Add fresh or frozen peas and cook 2-3 minutes longer.

IMG_3801IMG_3824Remove the pot from the heat, toss in the fresh dill and, using your immersion blender, puree until it’s the texture you prefer. (If serving soup as an appetizer, I make it a little thinner and puree it until very smooth. If using it for a family meal, I leave it a bit thicker and more chunky.)

TO SERVE:

IMG_3844IMG_3857For a 250 calorie snack or mini-meal, measure 2 cups of soup into a bowl and top with 2 teaspoons of pumpkin seeds and a few small croutons.  If throwing a party, you can serve as a passable  appetizer in shot glasses or tiny martini glasses…no spoons necessary!

PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD

IMG_3797If you’re a vegetarian, you can use a rich vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.  The color of the soup won’t be as bright of a green but will be just as delicious.

IMG_3788If you’re a carnivore and want to add a little bacon flavor to the soup, add one piece to the pot, saute with the vegetables and let it cook with the broth.  Fish it out and toss it before you puree…it will have surrendered all of its flavor by then and the chewy fat that remains won’t add anything but calories to the final dish.

About Lisa McRee

After 25 years as a local and network anchor, Lisa was just another American mother struggling, and failing, to lose weight. Finally, she cracked the code, and lost 30 pounds, quickly and for good, by doing what she loves: reporting, cooking and eating! The Skinny is the inside story on how she did it, and how you can, too!

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