Spring has finally come to Long Island!! We have daffodils, and cherry blossoms, and all sorts of green things are starting to spring up – both in our gardens and in our markets. Actually, I was lucky enough to be at the Union Square Greenmarket last weekend and I came across one of my favorite harbingers of spring – pea shoots (aka pea sprouts). Pea shoots look like exactly what they are – baby pea plants. They taste delicious – like the most tender raw baby peas, and you can eat them cooked or raw. In their honor, here’s a spring-green pea soup.
SPRING GREEN SOUP
- 2 leeks
- 2 yellow potatoes
- 1 – 2 tablespoons of butter
- 7 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock TIP: If you’re using store-bought stock, I recommend 3 cups of stock mixed with 4 cups of water so you don’t overwhelm the taste of the vegetables. ANOTHER TIP: Keep another cup of stock (or half stock/half water) in reserve in case you want to thin out the soup.
- 6 cups fresh peas or frozen petite peas
- 1 tablespoon or more of dried thyme – lemon thyme if you can get it.
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- A few handfuls of pea sprouts, rinsed and dried
- Optional garnishes: chopped fresh mint, lemon, yogurt and/or cream
Make The Soup
- Trim the tough, dark green leaves from the leeks, wash them well and roughly chop them. TIP: Leeks are filthy!!! My two favorite ways of washing them are to either split them lengthwise, leaving each half attached at the roots, and rinse them under running water or to fill up a large bowl with water, slice the leeks and swish them around in the water, draining and repeating until there’s no grit in the bottom of the bowl.
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat.
- When the butter finishes foaming, lower the heat a bit and add the leeks and a pinch of salt. Cover the leeks and cook, stirring occassionaly until the leeks are very soft but not browned – it should take about 15 minutes.
- While the leeks are cooking, peel and roughly chop the potatoes.
- Add the potatoes and cook for a few more minutes, stirring until the potatoes are coated with the butter.
- Add the stock and thyme and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
- Add the peas and cook about 5 minutes until they’ve softened a bit.
- Puree the stock with a hand blender. Unless you have incredibly tender peas, or like your soup to have a lot of body, put the soup through a food mill set with a fine blade. TIP: If you’re using a food mill, you can probably skip the hand blender, but I find the process goes quicker if the soup is already pureed before running it through the mill.
- Add some more stock to get the soup the consistency you like.
- If using pea sprouts as a garnish, heat the olive oil in a small sautee pan.
- Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to color.
- Add the the pea sprouts, and saute till they’re wilted, drain them on a paper towel, then chop them up.
- If not using pea sprouts, the sweetness of the soup plays really well with mint, some lemon or a dollop of yogurt.
TIP: The soup is best served, either hot or cold, the day it’s made. It will keep for another day, but after that loses flavor.
TIP: If you would like a richer soup, add cream after the soup is pureed and run through the food mill.
YIELD: 2 1/2 quarts of soup.