The wind is howling. Our house is wedged into a little quiet street- there’s no bustling traffic, or noisy teenagers on the sidewalks. The quiet is a perfect backdrop for the weather. Indoors, the noises of nature seem amplified. Great big puffs of wind crash against our walls. There’s a short break, an interlude of silence, and then a gust of wind picks up speed and hurtles through the garden, lifting up dead leaves and twigs, rushing at the wall insulating the kitchen.

On days like this our home feels thin, bare. The wind feeds on its weakness, rattling loose windowpanes, hissing through tiny holes in the window frames, through the air-conditioning units, beneath the doors. The trees that line the side of our home, usually upright and filled with birds, lash out against our walls. A door left slightly ajar bangs against the frame. Oil makes its way through the jungle of pipes in the basement and up into the heaters, hissing and humming. The house feels strangely alive.

This morning, we didn’t have running water- apparently, the pipes had frozen overnight. I have a bit of a cold, and I’m going through an alarming amount of tissues. For weeks now, I’ve been constantly slathering my hands with cream. What can I say? Winter, you’re not my favorite.

Days like this call for soup, and this one is a regular in our home. We almost always have split peas in a tall glass jar, and often they are the last ones standing when our more favored pantry items are all gone. If one of us is getting sick, and we don’t have vegetables or chicken, split pea soup makes its cameo. We’ll add whatever straggling vegetable we have to the pot; last night it was potatoes, but it could be carrots or celery. You can use whatever herb you have- cilantro, parsley, chives, a bit of mint- or leave it plain. It’s a thick, hefty, filling soup, perfect for nights when you need a little extra warmth. The lemon perks things up, adding a shot of brightness, while the cumin gives it a kick of spice. It comes together in less than 20 minutes of prep, giving you ample time to cozy up on the couch while it simmers away.

Lemony Split Pea Soup

This soup is thick and hearty, perfect for cold winter nights. The lemon perks things up, adding a shot of brightness, while the cumin gives it a kick of spice. It comes together quickly, and needs little attention as it simmers away. Feel free to replace the potatoes with whatever vegetable you have on hand- carrots, celery; or leave them out altogether. You can also use whatever herb you have in place of the cilantro: parsley, chives, a bit of mint- or leave it plain. As for the garnish- this combination of olives, goat cheese and scallions works nicely, but feel free to get creative with whatever you have, or to serve it plain- it’s delicious as it is. 

Prep: 20 minutes/ Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves 6

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups/ 450 grams/ 1 1b bag green split peas, picked over and rinsed

3 medium potatoes, chopped

8 cups vegetable broth*

1 tablespoon cumin

small bunch of cilantro, chopped

1/3 cup olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

salt & pepper

For Garnish: (optional)

chopped olives

crumbled goat cheese**

finely chopped scallions

1. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

2. Add split peas, potatoes, broth, cumin and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, and simmer for about an hour, until peas are soft.

3. Stir in cilantro, olive oil, and lemon juice. Season aggressively with salt and pepper, until the flavors pop, and the soup tastes bright. Ladle soup into bowls, topping with garnish if desired.

*I used 8 cups of water with 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon.

**omit for a vegan-friendly version.