But I've also promised you a Fresh Green Pea soup recipe. Like the fava bean salads we now enjoy at home each summer, the fresh pea soup-making was inspired by a meal we ate while traveling, a meal I told you about here, eaten on a terrace above the beach in Split, Croatia where my g'daughter surprised me by devouring the verdant contents of my bowl quite greedily. . .
Quite honestly, the recipe isn't mine but rather a compilation/mélange of a few I found online, heavily reliant on the Barefoot Contessa, but then swayed by options such as this recipe published in the New York Times . To begin, I sautéed 2 cups of leeks and 1 cup chopped yellow onion in a couple of tablespoons of butter (vegans or cholesterol-watchers could happily substitute olive oil). Because you're going to blend everything smooth, don't be too fussy over how you chop up the leeks. . . Just sayin' . . .
When the onions and leeks are softened, the Contessa would have you add 4 cups of chicken stock, and I had some ready in anticipation. But then I read the New York Times recipe, and I was interested in the claim that using water instead of chicken stock allowed the flavour of the peas to really shine through. As a compromise, I went with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken stock, but vegetarians will want to make that all water, and I might try that next time myself.
Whatever liquid mixture you've decided to add to your onions and leeks, bring it to a boil.
If you're lucky enough to have fresh garden peas, this is where you add them. The Contessa says 5 cups; that NYT recipe calls for a pound shelled; an Epicurious recipe wants 6 cups of either fresh or frozen. Sadly, I had to go with the latter, but I chose the small, sweet peas, and honestly, I think they get pretty close. . . .
Dump all 5 or 6 cups of fresh or frozen into your boiling pot, allow the whole kit-n-caboodle to come back to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer for another minute or two. You just want the peas to be tender, not mushy at all. . . Now take the pot off the heat and let it cool a bit before blending.
I'm still using the Oster blender we got as a wedding gift, Harvest Gold, and the kids make fun of me every time I haul it out. One of them even, very generously one Christmas, got us a KitchenAid food processor with a whole whack of attachments, and Pater uses those regularly. Let's just say I choose my learning curves judiciously . . . That said, I do think I'd like an immersion blender one of these days, and if any of you have favourite models to recommend, I'd be glad to hear.
So if you have an immersion blender, you'll be able to turn your chunky mixture into a velvety smooth soup right in your stockpot. I had to scoop mine out, two cups at a time, into my blender, then turn the smooth mixture into another pot for reheating later.
Still, the whole process is quick, and when the soup's all blended, you can taste and decide how much salt to add, and whether you might want to blend some fresh mint or basil or tarragon leaves into the last batch. We have lots of mint growing on the terrace, and I threw some of that in, but Pater thought it might have made the whole a bit too sweet, so I'll be rethinking that.
Start to finish, this is ready in less than an hour, and if you stock your freezer with a few bags of high-quality frozen peas, it's an easy from-the-pantry meal for those of us who always have an onion around. Skip the leeks and throw in an extra onion or dice up some shallots or try a garlic clove. . .
We bought crème fraîche, but I think sour cream would be just as tasty OR you could add 1/4 cup of light cream to the blended soup before serving. The bowl I had in Split featured a poached egg, which was a beautiful creamy touch, and, of course, adds lean protein to an already healthy dish.
In Split, I had the Fresh Pea Soup as a starter, but when I made it at home, I decided it made a good simple main course, with the stellar addition of some gorgeous, succulent scallops that Pater sautéed in butter and seasoned very simply with pepper and salt. Purchased artisan bread or a simple homemade Bread-in-a-Bowl served alongside, and honestly, I'd serve this to company for an easy, casual meal. I might add a simple green salad as another course, or I might just follow up with Roasted Cherries (350 oven, drizzle balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, watch the sugar doesn't burn) and a good vanilla ice cream, and put my hostess feet up. . . .