Louvana (yellow split pea soup)
Nutritious soups make everything better. From seasonal viruses to the common cold or even if the weather has started to change (in Dubai it finally cools down in November), having a few homemade soup recipes is an easy way to get your five a day and make the most of the seasons’ vegetables. The recipe I’m sharing below is a nourishing Greek Cypriot soup made with yellow split peas called Louvana.
Yellow split peas are pulses that look like lentils but are actually dried yellow peas. They take a little longer to cook than lentils but are still packed with protein, fiber and nutrients as other legumes do. My little trick for reducing the cooking time is to soak the yellow split peas and rice in water for a few hours before cooking. They are done in half the time plus soaking legumes and grains makes them easier to digest (and easier on the tummy).
The traditional recipe is quite thick and calls for white rice and potato. I’ve adjusted mine with extra vegetables for flavour and nutrition, brown rice and I use a white fleshed sweet potato instead of normal potato. If the soup is too thick for your liking you can thin it down with extra water, but it is normally a thick and filling soup.
1 cup yellow split peas
¼ cup brown rice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 medium sweet potato (white flesh), peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
Juice of ½ - 1 lemon, to taste
Topping: finely chopped parsley
Soak the peas and rice in plenty of water for a few hours. I usually to this in the morning and cook the soup later in the day. Drain and rinse well before using.
In a soup pot, sauté the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in olive oil for about 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the sweet potato, soaked peas and rice, bay leaf and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes until the peas and rice are soft. Season with salt and lemon juice and blend until smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little more water.
Serve topped with fresh parsley and a side of Greek olives, such as kalamata or throumbes (salty dried black olives).