Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Green Peas! Fresh or frozen?

Um, both! We tested a mix of fresh and frozen peas in this soup recipe to great results. Though shelling fresh peas is a bit of work, the end result is spring in a bowl. Try not to eat them all before the cooking process begins! It is important to source your peas from a place you know they are fresh as can be because in or out of the pod, peas are a delicate item that begin to lose sweetness (as the sugar turns to starch) from the moment they are picked. This is why a high-quality brand of frozen peas can be a perfectly suitable option. Flash frozen soon after being harvested, the peas will retain their sweetness and their nutritional value quite well while being reliably delicious all year long. But we are worshippers of the season! If you will ever by a fresh pea, now is the time.

No matter which form of peas you choose to cook with, this soup is a bright start to a spring meal. You can achieve a smoother puree by passing the final product through a sieve. If you leave it chunky just tell people it is 'rustic' and it will be a hit anyway. Remember the longer you cook the soup, the darker green it will become. This is the reason a hot liquid is added to the veggies, to cook them as quickly as possible while keeping them brilliantly hued and fresh tasting. There are many lovely ways to garnish the soup too... Some softly whipped cream (pictured above), diced pink radishes, an herb oil or some toasted almond slivers would all be great finishing touches.

Spring Pea Soup with Mint

2 tablespoons butter
2 packages frozen peas (10 ounces/each) or 20 ounces shelled fresh peas
6 scallions, chopped
1 cup mint leaves, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

In a small saucepan or in the microwave, heat stock and water. In a soup pot, melt butter and fry scallion and mint until wilted. Add peas, stirring to coat with butter. Pour in warm stock/water mixture and sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until peas are tender (5 minutes for frozen, 15 minutes for fresh), then stir in the heavy cream and the vinegar.
Simmer (do not boil) 10 minutes more. Using a food processor or blender (we love out immersion blender!), puree the soup. Season well with salt and pepper. Can be served hot or chilled. Serves 6.
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