What a weekend. It was cold and rainy. It was hot and humid. It was fair to middling. Ugh. After coddling several trays of delicate little seedlings on my dining room table for the last two months, I finally deemed it safe for them to go outside. Bad call. I planted them into my little garden plot on a hot and humid Friday morning. I thought all would be OK. Ha! Wishful thinking. That afternoon and all weekend, they were pummeled – PUMMELED – by never-ending rain. Then on Memorial Day the poor things had to deal with blistering heat and humidity. Not good.
Summer has been a long time coming in this neck of the woods. In fact, I think we went right from winter head first into summer yesterday and skipped spring entirely. While roaming the Green City Market last week, it was pretty apparent that produce-wise, we’re just entering the height of spring. Everything is late this year – the market is full of asparagus and rhubarb so for the first week of June, I plan on making a lot of “spring-like” foods. Better late than never.
As I wandered about the market, where it was raining yet again, I remembered a delicious pea soup we make every so often at one of my catering jobs. Sometimes we serve a bowl as a first course; other times we serve tiny little glasses for soup shots. It’s always delicious and really easy to put together. I looked around for fresh peas but either I missed them or they haven’t popped up yet. It’s hard to be sure.
So spring, summer or whatever I decided to make that soup yesterday. It’s really easy too, utilizing a bag of frozen peas. In fact, unless I had a bumper crop of fresh peas I think I’d stick with the frozen. The flavor is fresh, bright and lovely … simply the essence of green. It’s also extremely versatile and damn easy. You can add some heavy cream if you like, to really gild the lily, or not. I like it both ways but honestly, the potato adds such richness you won’t really miss it if you opt out. You can serve it hot or cold. Again, I like it both ways but since yesterday was so miserably warm I had it chilled with a little sour cream and additional mint on top. It was wonderful – fresh, bright, cooling and hit the spot on of those days where you’re just not sure what you want to eat.
I prefer to use my immersion blender to puree things like this but a blender or food processor will work well too – just do in batches. Quick tip: when pureeing hot soup in a blender, take that little circle thing out of the lid and cover the hole with a towel. This will allow the steam to escape and you’ll avoid any incidents. There is no need to clean pea soup off your kitchen ceiling if you can avoid it.
The formula for this soup is so basic and so easy that it will work with any vegetable – sauté some onion, add a little diced potato to thicken, some stock and any vegetable you have or desire. Puree until smooth. Boom. Soup. Just like that.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: TWO GREEN THUMBS UP. The color of this soup is a deep emerald-green – it’s absolutely stunning and my very favorite color. And hey, on a good day, it matches my eyes so that always racks up some bonus points. Sometimes picking foods by what will accent your best feature works wonders on your psyche and I needed a little pick-up. The fact that it’s so stinkin’ easy to whip together, completely flexible based on what’s in your fridge and can be made all year round just adds to it’s wonderfulness. This one is a winner in so many ways.
LATE SPRING PEA SOUP
Serves 4 as a starter or 12 as a passed hors d’oeuvre shot
½ small onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium potato, peeled & cut into ½” pieces (about 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 16-ounce bag frozen peas
1/3 cup heavy cream (optional)
¼ cup sour cream (or crème fraiche)
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat the butter until it foams.
- Sauté the onions until softened
- Add the potato, salt, mint; stir to combine
- Cook for 2-3 minutes until the potatoes softens
- Add chicken stock and simmer until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes
- Add peas and simmer until warmed through, about 3-4 minutes
- Remove from heat and add heavy cream if desired.
- With an immersion blender or in a regular blender or food processor in batches, puree until smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Soup can be served warm or chilled; drizzle with a little thinned sour cream and a bit of chopped mint for garnish.