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Curried Split Pea Soup with Cauliflower

1 teaspoon each whole cumin, fennel, and black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
3 large carrots halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices
6 cups boiling water
2 cups dried green or yellow split peas picked over and rinsed
1-2 tablespoons mild curry powder to taste
Salt to taste optional
1 pound fresh or frozen cauliflower chopped

Spray the bottom of the pressure cooker with a quick spray of oil, or add just a few drops, and begin heating it. (You can try toasting the spices without oil, but they burn quickly.) Add the cumin, fennel, and black mustard seeds over medium-high heat and toast them for about 10 seconds (they may or may not begin to pop). Stir in the ginger, garlic, and onions and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another minute. Add the carrots, boiling water (stand back to avoid sputtering), split peas (I like yellow in this), and curry powder. Stir well to be sure that no bits of onion or spices have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 8 minutes. (Electric PC users, just set the high pressure setting to 8 minutes.) Remove from heat or turn PC off. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for about 10 minutes, then quick-release the pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. Check the peas, and if they are not soft, return to high pressure for a couple of minutes or until they are uniformly tender (older peas may take longer to cook).

Add the chopped cauliflower, replace the lid, and heat over low heat until the cauliflower is just cooked, about 10 minutes. This also works with frozen chopped cauliflower (no need to thaw first). Stir in salt. (If no salt is desired, try stirring in fresh lemon juice a tablespoon at a time until the flavor is to your liking.) If the soup is too thick, thin it with water or stock.

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