Summer has arrived in whirlwind, as it always does. Our weekends have been filled with travel, loved ones' weddings, and countless activities. But, even with the added activity, our pace is still slower and more relaxed. Every to-do is on hold because there is just too much to enjoy in the present moment. Things are busy, but life just seems simple and uncomplicated.
In the spirit of simplicity, I wanted to share this fresh pea soup that I made this past weekend. Unadorned and unfussy -- just a bowl full of peas in all of their summertime glory. Shelling the peas takes a bit of time, but it's one of those classic summertime dinner activities -- much like shucking corn on the cob -- that you can't help but enjoy. And, once the peas are shelled, the soup takes less than 15 minutes to put together: just a quick sauté of some chopped onion, a swift boil of the peas in some vegetable broth until just tender, and then a spin in the blender with a handful of mint, and a few dollops of creme fraiche. If that isn't a simple summertime meal, I'm not sure what is. I hope you give it a try.
fresh pea + mint soup
This soup is as simple as it is versatile and is delicious served both hot and chilled. Its flavor depends on the quality of its ingredients, so make sure to use fresh peas for the best possible flavor (they are everywhere this time of year).
This recipe makes a small batch (makes 1 very large bowl, or 2 smaller bowls) but can be easily doubled or tripled as you see fit.
a few notes: This recipe is a bit loose and depends on your personal taste. Add more vegetable broth if you prefer it thinner, less if you'd like it thicker. If you serve the soup cold, it tends to thicken a bit as it chills.
If possible, buy the peas unshelled and shell them yourself just before cooking. It requires a bit of work, but the flavor is worth it! Pre-shelled peas (even when they are fresh) tend to loose some of their flavor and sweetness over time.
1 1/2 pounds unshelled sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 of a medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, plus more if needed
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon heavy cream + 1 tablespoon creme fraiche, combined for garnish
extra virgin olive oil, for garnish
salt to taste
First, shell the peas: snap the end of each pod and pull the string down the center seam of the pod. Use your fingers to pry open the seam and release the peas from their shell. Add peas to a bowl and set aside. *The discarded shells are delicious eaten raw as a snack while you're cooking!
Place a small stock pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, chopped onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add vegetable broth to the onions and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add peas and boil until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. *Don't cook the peas for too long as they'll lose their sweetness and vibrant green color!
Transfer soup to a blender, and add mint and creme fraiche. Blend until completely smooth. *Be careful when blending the hot liquid -- make sure not to overfill your blender (if your blender is small, blend the soup in batches), and cover the top with a kitchen towel rather than a lid so that steam can escape while blending. If you find your soup to be too thick at this point, add vegetable broth, a little bit at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.
Transfer soup to a bowl and serve garnished with chopped mint, a drizzle of olive oil, and a drizzle of the creme fraiche and cream mixture. Serve hot or chilled.
serves: 2 as an appetizer, 1 as an entree