Yesterday, I shared the line up at Mark and Johnna’s 10th annual cheese party.

And I promised to share the recipe for my course, a curried split pea soup with fried paneer and bacon. The past five years I’ve been one of two dessert courses, but this year, my responsibilities changed to soup. A new challenge.

Curried Split Pea Soup with Fried Paneer and Bacon | Things I Made Today

Knowing the pace of eating at the cheese party, I didn’t want to make the soup course so cheese-heavy that people would be too full so early in the game. The cheese in this recipe—the paneer—is a topping more so than a main ingredient, but a key component of tying the soup together.

Curried Split Pea Soup with Fried Paneer and Bacon | Things I Made Today

You start out by frying up some bacon and rendering out all the fat. Then you cook your onions and garlic in that fat before adding your brightly colored split peas and some vegetable stock. Let that boil down for a while before stirring in some coconut milk and curry powder.

Curried Split Pea Soup with Fried Paneer and Bacon | Things I Made Today

Frying up the paneer took quite some time for a party of 16, but it was, of course, totally worth it.

Curried Split Pea Soup with Fried Paneer and Bacon | Things I Made Today


Another successful cheese party. I can only imagine what next year will bring.

Curried Split Pea Soup with Fried Paneer and Bacon
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 5 pieces thick cut bacon, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1½ yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1½ cups green split peas
  • 5-6 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 ounces paneer, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • chopped chives for garnish
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, cook bacon until it’s nicely browned and fat has rendered. Remove bacon bits from pot and transfer to paper-towel lined plate. Set aside.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes to bacon fat. Cook until translucent, then stir in split peas. Mix to coat, then add 5 cups vegetable broth.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Cook for 30-50 minutes, until split peas are tender. Remove from heat. Add in coconut milk and curry powder.
  4. Using a food processor or immersion blender, puree soup until completely smooth. Add additional vegetable broth if soup is too thick.
  5. In a small skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add paneer cubes and salt generously. Cook until browned (they’ll start to pop) and then flip to other side. Brown on remaining side.
  6. Serve soup with fried paneer, bacon bits, and chives on top.


This year marks the 10th anniversary of Mark and Johnna’s annual cheese party. And just like cheese, it gets better with age.

I’ve had the honor of attending the cheese party for the last five years. Unfortunately, the 2010 and 2011 party were pre-blog days, so I don’t have good documentation of what amazing food was prepared or what witty jokes were made. However, the 2012 and 2013 parties are well captured, and you can see our progression.

Usually, the party is held in September, but this year Mark and Johnna waited until their new house in Oregon, WI was finished. And what better housewarming party is there than a cheese party? It was worth the wait.

I usually do a bad job of capturing all the glorious details of everyone’s dish (and trust me, there are plenty of important details), so this year, I asked each cook to jot down their description so nothing was missed. The photos don’t do the deliciousness justice. Sorry about that.

So here it is, course by glorious course.


Mark and Johnna's Annual Cheese Party 2014 | Things I Made Today

Green grapes with fresh pecorino and olive oil snow*. Made by Mark.

*If you’re wondering what olive oil snow is, it’s a molecular gastronomy trick that turns olive oil into a powder-like substance that tastes like olive oil but has a completely different consistency. read the rest »

I honestly don’t know how we’re going to eat the entire contents of the CSA this week.

Usually we split the share, but our CSA partner is out of town, so we get to keep the whole thing. It’s a beautiful problem to have, and I am determined not to let a single leaf go to waste. Here’s what we got this week:

Farmer's Market/CSA Series {Week 18} | Things I Made Today

Farmer's Market/CSA Series {Week 18} | Things I Made Today

And here are my ideas: read the rest »