chilled fresh pea soup
For kids once again back in school, summer is over. But stepping out our front door, you’d never believe it. For us here in Oregon, a string of 95°+ days is forecast over the coming week, maybe even breaking 100°. We’re told that we might be setting multiple records for the dates, which seems to perversely please us somehow. I guess if we’re going to “suffer” we’d like it to be for something of historical proportions. In light of this, it seems that one more cooling soup may be in order.
We had all the ingredients for this soup either spilling out of our herb garden or in the refrigerator. If some of these herbs aren’t readily available to you, feel free to change them up a bit. Mint seems essential though, since mint is especially good with peas (as you may have heard me say before – see Chicken Salad with Peas, Feta and Mint, June 25, 2011, if you want evidence of how I repeat myself.)
The serving suggestion for this soup is that you pour it into pretty glasses – perhaps so that it’s obvious that you simply drink it, rather than spoon it into your mouth. Or perhaps because the very sight of it in a pretty glass cools you by degrees. I didn’t have the perfect chilled-pea-soup glass – in fact it never occurred to me that I might be missing such a thing – so I opted for the simple and conventional. I’ve also tried heating this soup and serving it with a scattering of crispy herbed croutons. Turns out this is a soup with several different expressions, all of them pleasant.
Chilled Herbed Pea Soup
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 5 Tablespoons fragrant extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 small leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
- 2 cups chicken stock or broth (or good vegetable stock)
- 3½ cups frozen baby peas (from two 10-ounce packages) – thawed
- 2 cups finely chopped iceberg lettuce
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley or chervil
- 1/3 cup fresh chives, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 5 ounces mild goat cheese or cream cheese
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and white pepper
Melt the butter and one tablespoon olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium low heat. Add the leeks and gently cook until soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the stock plus 3 cups of water, and increasing the heat to high, bring to a boil. Add the peas and the lettuce. Reducing the heat to medium-low, simmer until the vegetables are bright green and tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Drain the vegetables, setting aside their cooking liquid. Run the vegetables under cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve their color. Allow the vegetables and their cooking liquid to cool.
Place the cooked vegetables, the herbs, goat cheese and remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, along with the 3 cups of reserved cooking liquid in a large bowl and stir to combine. Working in two batches, purée the mixture in a blender until completely smooth and frothy – (about a minute.) Transfer the purée to a large bowl and whisk in the remaining cooking liquid.
Season with salt and white pepper to taste and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours. Serve the soup in pretty glasses, garnished with chives and drizzled with olive oil.
This recipe appears in the wonderful cookbook by Anya von Bremzen,
The New Spanish Table
Right around the corner: something sweet & indulgent
I’m so ready for it!