When you say “pea soup,” people aren’t exactly jumping in line to get a bowl. I hate split pea and ham soup, especially that smell, which reminds me of a nursing home. Don’t worry. This version is nothing like that. It tastes very fresh. The leeks and ground pepper give it some bite. And while the soup is served hot, the mint and the crème fraîche have a cooling effect, which make this a great spring soup, as the weather warms up.
Describing how the soup tastes, got me thinking. We don’t do that often at restaurants. On a menu, a chicken entree will be described as “roasted Red Bird chicken breast with fennel and orange.” It’ll describe what farm the chicken came from, the method of cooking, and the ingredients, but not the end result, how it tastes. That’s something we’re left to infer. It never says this dish has “subtle minerality, with traces of warm hazelnut and clove, offering a lush, creamy mouth feel impeccably balanced by crisp, mouthwatering acidity.” Because then it would be a tasting note for a bottle of Chardonnay. Sometimes I wonder what’s more important, though, the fact these peas we’re plucked straight out of the garden, or the fact that the mint fills your mouth with a herbal, cooling sensation? I guess, both.
Anyways, it’s one of the quickest soups you’ll ever make. Start to finish, it’s done in about 10 minutes, provided you’ve already shelled your peas. Don’t try to make this with peas from a can. Use only fresh peas or frozen if you can’t get any fresh. Serve it as a starter to a St. Patrick’s Day or Easter dinner, or try it cold on a picnic.
1 leek, sliced
1/2 an onion, chopped
1/8-1/4 c olive oil
1-1 1/2 c water
2 c fresh peas, shelled
15 mint leaves, chopped (save some for garnish)
freshly ground pepper and sea salt
1/2 c heavy cream (optional)
crème fraîche, for garnish
1. Half the leek and rinse thoroughly to get rid of any dirt. Leeks are like the Pig-Pen of vegetables. Remove the outer layer and end. Chop leek and onion, medium diced.
2. Saute the leek and onion in some olive oil in a soup pot with a dash of salt.
3. After about 5 minutes, add the water and a dash more of salt.
4. Add the peas, adding more water if necessary to make sure all the peas are submerged.
5. Cook about 5 more minutes. Add in the fresh mint and pepper in the last minute.
6. With an immersion blender, puree until smooth, pouring in some warmed cream. Or use a blender, but if doing it this way, let the soup cool some first, and maybe do it in two batches.
7. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche, some chopped mint, and ground pepper.