It is a truth universally acknowledged that the most delicious dinner is not necessarily the most attractive. I am not sure if it is more frustrating to have a pretty meal that tastes rather ordinary or a bog-ugly meal that tastes amazing. Today's Creamy Split Pea and Cauliflower Soup was one of my finest moments in the kitchen in a period lacking creativity but it does not look that impressive.
It was one of my cheering moments in Lockdown 5.0 in Melbourne. I made it on the weekend I should have been having dinner with my family in Geelong while my brother was in town, driving with my dad to the Flinders Street Ballroom to see the Patricia Piccinini exhibition in Melbourne, followed by a drink at the pub with a friend. At least I had soup to console me that instead I was locked down at home. And I had a walk with my friend instead of heading to the pub. I also gave her some of this soup to take home to her family because I had made so much. It was nice to share it with people who appreciated it.
Lockdown 5.0 was hard. I thought 4.0 was going to be the hardest but it seems everyone just gets more and more worn down with each lockdown. It was 10 days with the 26 covid cases the highest daily tally. Nothing compared to last year's lockdown or compared to Sydney's current longer lockdown or even other countries but a little can have a big impact. Especially when the unsettling affect of three lockdowns over 6 months means we are finding it hard to keep getting back on top of life each time. We are unsure of planning ahead and wondering when the next lockdown will be.
As with other lockdowns, working from home and supporting my year 7 to learn remotely was challenging. Life slowed down. I had a good bout of cleaning which found me scrubbing the bathroom ceiling. I had some nice walks with friends. I cancelled a few things but had a medical appointment that went ahead face to face which I followed with a visit to Zaatar for a takeaway of favourite zaatar pizza. The mural on the wall of Zaatar is very cheering (see above photo).
This above "Get on the Beers" photo of Dan Andrews was seen in Moonee Ponds in the week before lockdown. We were a bit close for comfort to a covid case who was wondering around the shops where we were but luckily the one place we went that ended up being a Tier 1 exposure site (requiring 2 weeks quarantine at home) was visited 3 hours before the case. Phew! Being in lockdown is hard enough but at least we can get out for walks, bike rides and shopping. Having had 2 brothers in home quarantine lately, I am all too aware of how easy it is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Being an old hand at lockdowns now, I find that coming out of a lockdown is as hard as being in one. It is a joyous moment to be told that lockdown will end but we know that it doesn't really mean life is back to normal. There are lingering restrictions that only gradually ease up. One of my simple pleasures in getting out of lockdown is having a swim. It has usually been at the Brunswick outdoor pool because outdoors usually open before indoor pools. Although it was not the case this time, this was where I had my first swim after lockdown even though it was raining at the time.
I am happier being in the pool than watching swimming but it seems so much of Australia has been watching our Olympians winning a record haul of gold medals in the pool. The Olympics Opening Ceremony was while we were in lockdown. In fact I heard one or two people say that lockdown and the Olympics go well together. I haven't really got into the Olympics though I did watch some gymnastics, artistic swimming and a little athletics (that pole vault is amazing). The Olympics is odd in these Covid times with no crowds or cheering is just bizarre. I am partly glad for Japan to have actually staged the Olympics and partly concerned at their Covid situation.
I am still feeling both wary of going out and impatient to resume life. We are not allowed visitors in the home or big crowds. I have been into the office at reduced hours and met with friends at cafes but life still feels pretty quiet.
Returning to the soup, I highly recommend it. It is a cross between a dal and a split pea soup. I actually was going to make this Creamy Coconut Dahl with Cauliflower which had red lentils. But I had a packet of split peas that I bought on a whim and decided to use them instead. I ran out of curry powder so I tweaked the spices and added in corn that I had hanging around the fridge. The soup seemed a little salty but was fine once I added some lemon juice. As with so many soups, it was quite thin on the first night but thickened into more stew than soup overnight. This recipe makes plenty for sharing and is a satisfying dinner on a cold winter evening.
More split pea soup recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Potage St Germain (split pea and green pea soup) (gf, v)
Shitake and star anise split pea soup (gf, v)
Split Pea and Lentil Soup (v)
Split Pea Soup (gf, v)
Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potato and Mushrooms (gf, v)
Thai curry split pea soup (gf, v)
Creamy split pea and cauliflower soup
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-4 stalks of celery, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
6 cups water
1 tbsp stock paste (or 1 1/2 tsp stock powder)
500g split peas (soaked 2 hours in boiling water)
1 tsp salt, or less
1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
2 cups frozen green peas
1 large zucchini, chopped
1 cup corn kernels
400g coconut milk
few handfuls of baby spinach Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
[Soak the split peas in boiling water for about 2 hours prior to starting the soup.] Fry onion, celery and garlic in olive oil for 5-10 minutes or until softened. Stir in spices for a minute or so until fragrant. Add water, stock paste, split peas and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add cauliflower, green peas, zucchini and corn. Simmer for about 45 minutes or until split peas are cooked and cauliflower is soft. Stir in coconut milk, spinach, lemon juice and black pepper. Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve warm with bread.
On the Stereo:
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