Wednesday, August 2, 2017

And Fresh Pea Soup Back Home. . . .

 First of all,  no, those are not Peas in the Pod.  But I thought I'd begin by pointing backwards, in case any of you have access to fresh fava beans (we've been able to pick them up at the local Farmers' Markets, although the season is almost over). If that's the case, you might be interested in a post I wrote two summers ago about bringing our travels home via a favourite salad (Fava Bean Salad recipe included in that post, as well as suggestions for substitutions we've used when we can't find fava beans).

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. . . .


 Let me know if you try this, especially if you have suggestions for happy tweaks. . . And if you have a fair bit of soup left after your simple lunch or dinner, check back over the next day or two, because I have a suggestion about making a completely different meal from those leftovers. . . . 

24 comments:

  1. Oyster Harvest Gold blender?! You took me right back to my mother's early 70s kitchen: there it is right next to the harvest gold fridge and the avocado green crock pot!
    This recipe will be one to try as soon as serious soup weather arrives.Thanks for doing all the hard work and explaining a simple formula.
    Have been loving all your recent nature photography on Instagram. Not on there myself but sneak a peek at your photos quite often.
    Have been thinking of your nephew quite often.

    A.in London

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    1. I know, the blender's pretty hilarious, but it still works well, and a few years ago I found a glass jar replacement for my heat-damaged plastic original. One of the blades is chipped, and it needs to be replaced. But this blender is 43 years old, still working, and Oster still offers service and replacement parts. What's not to love?!
      I'd consider the soup, hot or cold, in the summer, as a starter, the way it was served to us in Split, but not everyone likes summer soups, I now.
      Thanks for the kind words about my Instagram. I do enjoy that platform.
      (he's on a heavy round of chemo this week -- thanks for those thoughts)

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  2. I just got rid of my Oster - my mother got it for her wedding. On that topic - I have so much 1960s/70s kitchenware. In truth, mine wasn't really blending anything by the end :-) I have a really challenging relationship with blenders. I like my Blendtec but I don't love it and I may have to get a KitchenAid (like that's a good expenditure of cash at this point!) I have the Cuisinart immersion blender with lots of attachments and I rarely use it (though the kid does). I like it for making potions more than food.

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    1. So your old blender would have been close to mine in age (ours dates from '74! -- and it still blends just fine, although I'm thinking a blade replacement might be a good idea -- turns out that jamming a wooden spoon down too far doesn't make for a better pesto. . .
      Are you still making potions? I'd love more of that Rose Oil --should check your Etsy, shouldn't I?

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  3. I love making soup . My pea soup is a little different . I make the same pea , onion & stock mix - marigold bouillon powder is good for us veggies , then a bit of simple white sauce & gradually mix them together . Yours is a healthier option , so I'll try it next time . Soup is great for using up all the bits of vegetables hanging around & making you feel virtuous . I always use my moulinex stick blender for soup - just don't switch it on till it's immersed :-)
    Wendy in York

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    1. Ah, interesting, that white sauce base, which would give you a nice creamy thickening without cream. I think this gets plenty of texture from the blended veg, though. . .
      Hahaha! on the Moulinex-switching advice -- I got such a clear mental picture!

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  4. I cook all versions of cream soups (pea,carrots,zuchinni,calliflower,broccoli etc)usually with water instead of stock-pretty the same recipe as yours-I add the cream (or sometimes ,instead of cream,soy or almond milk)
    My go-to stick blender is also Moulineux
    Dottoressa

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    1. I think I'm going to start doing more of this -- I've always thought I needed the stock for flavour, and I do like it (and it's a great way to get all those "bone broth" nutrients that are so trendy at the moment), but for quick and healthy, this works really well. I like your idea for adding almond milk instead of the cream, occasionally (although MMmmmmm, cream. . . )
      Two votes for the Moulinex now. Good to know. . .

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  5. I have the Cuisinart immersion stick blender which my French cooking teacher got me started on for soups. I am not really fond of my blender. Most times I would rather use the Cuisinart food processor or, if any heavy duty blending needs to be done, I bring it over to my daughter's house and have her husband do it in his Vitamix!

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    1. P.S. Thanks for sharing this recipe. And I love anything from Ina Garten's (Barefoot Contessa) cookbooks.

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    2. And another vote for the Cuisinart immersion stick. I really should figure out our food processor. . .
      Funny, because we used to have a Sunbeam Mixmaster (another wedding gift), and I ended up giving it away because it took up too much space, and I'm quite happy with the small hand mixer (power).

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  6. It's the Cuisinart immersion blender in our kitchen, too, although I had the same Oster Harvest Gold blender for many, many years. Yummy sounding soup. I like the idea of adding the scallops to make it heartier.

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    1. Three votes for the Cuisinart, then. And a woman who managed to let go of the Harvest Gold blender. . . .

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  7. I use a Braun immersion blender...and that soup sounds wonderful, especially with those scallops.

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    1. The soup's really good for WW points as well, I'm pretty sure, and the scallops make it a real treat..
      Braun, duly noted. . .

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  8. You write about cooking so very well! And your recent posts also sound like you're feeling very centered. Trust me, I am NOT projecting. ;)

    Ann

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    1. Thank you! And oh dear, that Not projecting sounds like tough times. Take care.

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  9. There is nothing like old kitchen equipment. My blender is a Braun Multimix from the early sixties. I inherited it from my aunt and it works well enough. (I was quite pleased when I discovered the same model in a design exhibition in the local museum of applied arts.)
    Your soup recipe is very tempting. I am going to try the combination of peas and leek. My standard fresh pea soup has chopped celery root and some sweet corn, boiled with the peas, then I put in some coconut milk. After blending I add salt, some cayenne pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. The soup is rather sweet and filling, a nice warming meal in cold times.

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    1. Those small appliances were made to last -- and if not to last without problems, at least they were made with a commitment to continued parts and service.
      I really like that idea of the coconut milk and the corn and celery. . . I might even be tempted to add a bit of lemongrass and green curry, alathough hard to know how that would work with the green peas. . .

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  10. I also use a Braun immersion blender. That soup looks marvellous and makes me think of the pea soup my partner and I had at the Tate Modern. It was cold with mint and a dollop of crème fraiche and good crusty bread; it made us go silent after wandering through the Rothkos. Brenda

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    1. I haven't tried this pea soup cold yet, but that's next on the agenda. Anything that complements the viewing of Rothkos. . . (have I talked to you about the olives we love at the Tate Modern? haven't found their like anywhere else yet. . .

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  11. Yummy recipe which I intend to make once we have pea production going in our new garden. I refuse to buy supermarket fresh peas tho we eat a lot of frozen petit pois year round. I'm not a great kitchen gadget person - am engaged in microwave wars with my husband, who thinks they're an essential, whereas I think they're the work of the devil - anything I put in emerges strangely mutated. We have our wedding present French Magimix mixer - probably very tiny by North American standards and 32 years old this summer, and a hand-held immersion blender much used for puréeing red lentil soup.
    Ottolenghi has a good broad bean salad recipe including radishes. I made it when we had a friend of my daughter's staying who was vegan and gluten free.

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    1. It's really a waste of money to buy the supermarket fresh peas-in-the-pod -- their sweetness has changed to fibrous dull bulk by the time they get to the stove, and the Frozen Petit Pois, flash-frozen within a few hours of harvesting, are a much better bet.
      I love my microwave for a few things, but there are definitely some foods that should never go near one . . .
      I'll look for that Ottolenghi recipe, although I sadly fear that our fava/broad bean season is over now. . . But each week I say that, and each week there's a stall at the Farmers' Market that still has them.

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  12. I always used stock, but the past couple of summers I've been making lovely simple vegetables soups using simply water. I think they both have their place, but I can love the sweetness of the vegetables using water.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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