Fresh pea soup

June 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), French, Other, soup, Spring recipes, Vegetable dishes)


I’ve never made pea soup before.  I’m not even sure I’ve ever cooked with fresh peas before.  But I saw the peas in the Turkish market and remembered that my new French cookbook (France: The Vegetarian Table) has a recipe for fresh pea soup.  Then when I got them home I had a sudden crisis of confidence.  Was what I bought actually English peas?  Or could they be sugar snaps?  I did some research online and determined that I bought the right thing.  At the right is the photo from 4.bp.blogspot.com that reassured me.  The pea on the left is an English (or sweet) pea.  The middle pea is a (very flat) snow pea.  The last pea–which is small, fat, and a little pointy–is the sugar snap.  Duly reassured, I proceeded to pop the peas out of their pods.  Wow, shelling 2 pounds of peas is a lot of work.  It took me almost an entire episode of Top Chef Master’s to finish, and my hands were aching by the end.  I was praying that that the soup would be worth all the trouble.Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds English peas in their pods
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. creme fraiche
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh chive blossoms or chives

Instructions:

  1. Shell the peas and set aside, reserving the pods.  In a saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil.  Add the pods and the water, cover, and reduce the heat to medium low.  Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.   Strain, discarding the pods.
  2. Return the broth to the saucepan and add the shelled peas.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook the peas until they are tender.  This will take anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes, depending on the size and age of the peas.
  3. When the peas are ready, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Return the puree to the saucepan, add the salt and pepper, and heat to serving temperature (but do not boil).
  4. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each serving with a little creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chives.  Serve immediately.

Serves 3 or 4.

My notes:

I tasted the vegetable broth after simmering the pea pods and it tasted very sweet and pea-y.  If I ever buy peas in the pod again I will definitely save the pods for vegetable broth!  I wasn’t sure how to tell if the peas were done.  I was hoping they would be tender and still stay bright green, but it seemed that by the time the peas were tender they had turned a putrid “pea green” color.  I tried to use my stick blender rather than a regular blender, and that was a mistake.  The soup was extremely lumpy.  So I poured the soup into a regular blender and then ran it through a sieve just to be on the safe side.

In the end the soup was quite nice.  It was simple but captured the essence of the pea flavor perfectly.  The creme fraiche was a nice addition but no one seemed to like the chives all that much.  Maybe I cut them too big.  The pieces seemed to interfere with the creamy texture of the soup.

I think this soup would be interesting with some sort of surprising flavor mixed into the creme fraiche.  Ginger?  Nutmeg?  Cardamom?

I’d definitely make this soup again–especially if someone else volunteered to shell the peas.

3 Comments

  1. Deepa said,

    Nigella Lawson (the host of a show on Travel & Living) made this soup in her show today – she added lime juice concentrate when the peas were cooking in the water – and she said it will retain the color and make it a better green. You might want to give that a shot. Plus some garlic will add a lovely flavor.

    • captious said,

      Interesting. I have never seen lime juice concentrate here though. Think just regular lime juice would work? Wouldn’t it make the soup sour?

      • Deepa said,

        That’s what my mom and I think so too, but then I’d never know unless I actually try it… May be one of these days…. 🙂

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