Posted by Tania Kindersley.
There is nothing lovely to look at outside any more. The stalactites of ice have fallen from the eaves and the snow is melting and reforming into iced slush. A thaw of a kind has come, but out in the fields, the snow is still up to the sheep's elbows. It all looks rather forlorn and grubby. Because of the wind chill, it feels colder than ever. And there is terrible news from Haiti.
On days like this, my only answer is to make soup. Sometimes I love to get intricate, to chop and mix ingredients and generally play around. I did not quite have the heart for that today, so I made the simplest kind of thing that would have purists fainting away with horror.
I took some yellow split peas, a pinch of saffron, a tablespoon of Marigold stock powder, a scatter of cumin, two chopped dried chillies, and a dash of curry powder (I know that I am supposed to roast and grind my own spices, so you will have to forgive that), covered the lot in water, brought to a low simmer and cooked for forty minutes. You may need to add some more water, as the peas expand mightily. You end up with a lovely thick article, half way between a soup and a dhal. I know it should have onions and garlic and other crucial ingredients, but if you feel like cheating, this is a perfect way to do it. It does not look pretty, but it is rich and spicy and feels with each spoonful as if it is doing good.