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One very small onion, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
Quart of vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
16 oz bag of frozen green peas
About 10-12 mint leaves, plus leaves for garnish
Two tablespoons of minced parsley
1/3 cup sour cream, plus more for garnish (or creme fraiche)
Lemon wedges and olive oil
About & Method:
This is my interpretation of a recipe from the Culinary Institute of America cookbook Seasons in the Wine Country, a really excellent book with several recipes that are among my favorites. I’d strongly recommend it. Several years ago, we started having an informal Easter dinner with our friend Rachel, her kids, and Rachel’s partner Colin.
The kids grew up, we missed a few dinners here and there, and Rachel and Colin moved. Then on Easter during the coronavirus pandemic, we all got together on a Zoom session and talked about all kinds of things, including this soup.
I think there are three great things about this recipe. First, it’s great looking and has a lovely intense pea and, well, green flavor. Second, it’s easy to make this completely vegetarian (with veggie stock) or vegan (skip the sour cream). Third, it is ridiculously easy to make. While I don’t think I’d really want to make this a meal, it’s a fun first course.
- In a 3 quart or larger pot, heat some olive oil on medium heat and lightly sauté the onions for about 5 minutes, just to soften.
- Add the stock, frozen peas, mint (saving some for garnish), and parsley, and then just bring it to a simmer– the peas and herbs don’t really need to cook. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Take the pot off the heat and let the soup cool for 10 or so minutes. I think the stock matters in this recipe because there aren’t a lot of ingredients. So if you can use homemade stock, either chicken or vegetable, it’s worth the extra step. The original recipe talks about using fresh peas for this, but honestly, I cannot imagine that it’d be worth it shell that many peas, and f I had that many fresh peas, I’d probably just them as is.
- Blend the soup thoroughly. How you do this kind of depends on what you have and/or are willing to use to do the blending. An immersion blender works well, though see the next step: if you want to strain it, you’re going to need a second pot or something that is big enough to hold the strained soup. If you have a really good blender (like a Vitamix) and want to deal with blending up hot liquid (it can be kind of a mess and a good way to get burned), you can get a really fine and smooth soup. But hey, kind of chunky and not smooth is good too.
- Here’s the optional next step: strain the soup with a fine mesh strainer. It just depends on how smooth a soup you want, and if you used a good blender and mixed the hell out of it, you probably don’t need to do this anyway.
- Gently reheat the soup. When it is hot enough to serve, turn off the heat and whisk in about a third of a cup of sour cream (or skip this step for the vegan version).
- Serve it (around a cup a person), and garnish (if you want) with a bit of sour cream, mint, a splash of olive oil, and lemon wedges.