150g yellow split peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 litre hot vegetable stock
400ml pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
pinch of sugar (optional)
2 spring onions, chopped
150g spinach leaves, roughly chopped
a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
a handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshy ground black pepper
seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
1 tablespoon mint leaves, thinly sliced
This is an Azerbaijani soup with sweet, tart and complex spice flavours. Substitute the split peas for green or brown lentils if you prefer.
Unless your split peas are very fresh, soak them overnight in cold water.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and soften the onions. Add the garlic and spices and stir for a minute
or two, until fragrant. Tip in the split peas, add the stock and pomegranate juice and bring to the boil. Cook for 30-45 minutes, until the split peas are tender. Add more hot water if you want a thinner broth.
Stir in the pomegranate molasses and taste the soup for seasoning. If it is tart, a pinch of sugar will mellow the flavour.
Remomve the cinnamon stick and add the spring onions, spinach, parsley and coriander and cook just long enough for them to wilt into the soup. Serve scattered with pomegranate seeds and ribbons of fresh mint.
(^Recipe reproduced with permission from Samarkand, Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus -Kyle Books, June 2016- by Caroline Eden, Eleanor Ford)