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Indian-spiced pea soup with paneer

Australian Gourmet Traveller spring recipe for Indian-spiced pea soup with paneer.

By Emma Knowles
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr cooking plus soaking, draining
  • Serves 6
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Indian-spiced pea soup with paneer
Paneer is fresh Indian curd cheese, similar to cottage cheese. We love it ultra-fresh, soft and still a little warm. If you prefer a firmer paneer, drain it for longer. You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.


  • 8 golden shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1½ long green chillies
  • 40 gm ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) each mint and coriander
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for shallow-frying
  • 1½ tsp each brown mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  • 1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100 gm dried split green peas, soaked overnight in cold water, drained
  • 700 gm podded peas (about 1.4kg unpodded)
  • Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 litre Jersey milk (see note) (4 cups)
  • 250 ml buttermilk (1 cup)


  • 1
    Coarsely chop three-quarters of the shallots. Process in a food processor with garlic and chilli until coarsely chopped, add ginger and one-third of the herbs and process to a fine paste. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add shallot mixture and stir occasionally until fragrant (4-5 minutes). Add spices, stir until seeds pop (1 minute), then add stock and split peas and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium and simmer until split peas are tender (35-40 minutes). Add peas, simmer until tender (5-6 minutes), remove from heat. Remove about ¾ cup peas with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add half remaining herbs to pan, process with a hand-held blender until smooth, add lemon juice to taste, season to taste and keep warm.
  • 2
    For paneer, dry-roast cumin seeds until fragrant (30 seconds) and set aside. Bring Jersey milk to the boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, quickly stir in buttermilk and 2 tsp sea salt and stir until curds form. Tip into a muslin-lined sieve placed over a bowl and stand to drain (15 minutes; discard liquid), then stir in cumin.
  • 3
    Heat 1cm oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add remaining herbs, shallow-fry until crisp (30 seconds), remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Thinly slice remaining shallot, add to pan, shallow-fry, until crisp (1 minute), remove with a slotted spoon and drain.
  • 4
    Serve soup hot scattered with reserved peas, paneer, crisp shallot and crisp herbs.


Jersey milk has a high fat content. It’s available from select farmers’ markets and delicatessens.
This recipe is from the October 2012 issue of
Drink Suggestion: Ripe, spicy pinot gris. Drink suggestion by Max Allen

  • Author: Emma Knowles