split pea soup with curry brown butter + butternut squash

I didn't grow up eating split pea soup.

But this might just be my very favorite soup yet. Well, except for my mom's homemade vegetable and beef soup that she always makes the day after cooking a roast. That stuff is magic.

But this soup is not for the faint of heart. I mean, curry brown butter? Coconut milk? Cinnamon-dusted butternut squash? Did I mention curry brown butter...?

There is a time and a place for butter, and this is it.

Now, we all know that split pea soup isn't the prettiest on the outside, but it's pretty on the inside and that's what really matters here. (Cue life lesson #324...I can still hear my mom's voice, "Carrie, pretty is as pretty does.")

Well, this soup "does pretty" and will do wonders for your soul.

I know peeling and cutting a butternut squash can be quite the workout. Just add a 30-minute walk and you're good for the day. You can certainly buy pre-cut squash cubes, but I like to put on a little Sara Bareilles and get lost in the task myself. I use a chef's knife to peel but you could use a really strong peeler if you've got one. Then, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and dice into cubes.

An immersion blender is the perfect contraption to puree the soup into satiny bliss. Don't have one? You could pour it in batches into a food processor to puree and then return it to the soup pot. But, I will warn you that this is messy and may actually dirty your favorite apron. Or wall. The husband and I did this with approximately 5.8 soups until we decided to fork over the best $30 we ever spent.

split pea soup with curry brown butter + butternut squash // serves 4 to 6

adapted from "Super Natural Every Day" by Heidi Swanson

4 cups peeled 1/2 inch-cubes butternut squash

extra-virgin olive oil, fine-grain sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, ground cinnamon, to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

5 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups green split peas, picked over and rinsed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 bunch fresh chives, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scatter the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, leaving space between each piece. (You may need two sheets if yours are small.) Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cinnamon, to taste. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes until browned, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot over medium heat, combine the 2 tablespoons butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute and stir regularly, until the onions soften, about 2 minutes. Add the water and split peas. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook until the split peas are tender, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.

While the split peas are cooking, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it begins to smell nutty and fragrant, remove from heat and immediately stir in the curry powder.

When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from heat. Stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Alternatively, you can pour it in batches into a food processor to puree, then return it to the soup pot. Stir in half of the brown curry butter. I like to add 2 teaspoons salt here, but adjust to taste. Everyone likes a different consistency in their split pea soup, so thin with water, if desired. Serve each bowl with a drizzle of the remaining brown curry butter, a spoonful of roasted butternut squash, and a sprinkle of chives.