The only people I know who love winter are aliens and Brazilians. I’m not talking about the winter when you get to go to Aspen and take pictures at the summit trying to jump in your ski boots in a sort of I’m an 80s banana-boat-beach-model way. I’m talking about the winter of today, when it’s 16 degrees outside and your car won’t start or you are stuck at National Tire and Battery for four hours, because you left your tire change to the day before a snow storm. oof.
Seasons come and go. By January we can start to look forward to spring, knowing that the days are already getting longer-thank god. For me, this is prime meditation season. Call the therapist, buy another yoga session, and turn that oven on and start cooking something…quick. My instagram profile says that I’m “cooking my way to zen in 2015” and that’s no joke. Zen and the art of cooking is real. Your mind just can’t wander when your yielding a butcher knife. I mean it can…but not if you want to keep all of your fingers.
To get over my winter grumps, and as a prelude to spring, today I decided to cook pea and mint soup. Really, this is part of my 2015 cookbook challege. I selected “peas with oranges and mint” as my first recipe from Marian Burros’ 1967 cookbook Elegant But Easy. The full dinner challenge was: Peas with Oranges and Mint; Beef Bourguignon; and Prune Bread. I’ve used this as inspiration and instead have opted to make Pea and Mint Soup. It’s warm and bright green and will give me some some spring in my winter. Here’s how it’s done…
This is a basic and delicious soup, so don’t be intimidated. First things first… gather those ingredients and put them on your cooking tray so you don’t forget anything. Here’s mine…
As you can see, there’s not much to this soup. Onions, shallots, lemon, butter, mint, peas, salt, pepper, chicken stock, and cream (sour cream or creme fraiche). That’s it! You can add an extra onion or leeks and chives to this recipe if you like. Because we sautee these ingredients first, the taste shouldn’t be over-powering on the onion-side of things.
First chop the onions and mince your shallots.
Toss 4 tbsps of butter into a soup pot and watch that baby melt. Be sure to move the butter around in the pan a bit. No need to bring that butter to a boil… Now combine all of your oniony ingredients (onions, shallots, leeks etc.) and sautee them for approximately 5 minutes over medium-high heat. The onions should go from opaque white to translucent. Shallots are often purple when you cut them, but they too should end up translucent (that’s how you know you’re done-see the third photo in the above series). We’re not frying the onions, so don’t let them turn brown. Keep that spatula moving around the pot!
Once you’ve hit that magic translucent color. Add your chicken stock all at once and bring the mixture to a boil (doesn’t need to be a rolling boil, just some nice bubbles will do). Now add your peas. Whether you are using fresh peas or frozen peas, it doesn’t matter. You want the peas to be a green that pops out at you. The way I know that I’m done, is when the pea is is soft and pops in your mouth. Using frozen peas, I was there in about 5 minutes. When you move the pot off the heat, the peas will continue to cook, so don’t worry too much, if you aren’t exactly sure if the timing.
Once the peas are ready, remove them from the heat right away and add your chopped mint. Stir the pot and let it cool down a bit so that you can put it into a blender without shocking the glass of the blender and ruining your kitchen tools. Blend this baby in batches. Pulse it quickly and then once you have it under control, let it ride. I like my soup as smooth as possible, so I try and blend out all of the mint pieces. You can always add more fresh mint and cooked peas into the soup at the last minute if you like something to chew 😉
Once you are done blending, you can add the cream and the lemon. You can either mix this together over the stove quickly, or do it like I do it leaving the soup as it is, adding a dollop of cream and a sprinkling of lemon zest on top. That’s it. Hope you enjoy it!
- 4 tbsp Butter (unsalted)
- 4 Shallots Minced
- 1 Large Onion Chopped
- Leeks/Chives (optional--2 Leeks or ½ cup chopped chives)
- 6 cups Chicken Stock
- 32 oz (2 frozen pea bags), about 6 cups fresh or frozen peas:
- 1 cup fresh mint (chopped):
- Cream (creme fraiche or sour cream)
- Lemon zest (1 well zested lemon, or two poorly zested lemons-I know it's hard!)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Mint and cooked peas as garnish
- Gather your ingredients onto a tray nice and neat 😉
- Chop your onions and mince your shallots.
- Chop your mint and set aside.
- Melt your butter in a large soup pot, being careful not to let the butter bubble up. Make sure to stir it with a heat-proof spatula.
- Add your onions/shallots and leeks/chives if you use them and sautee together on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until translucent
- Add your chicken stock to the onion mixture and bring to a boil
- Add the peas and cook until the peas turn a bright green and start to look like your fingers do after a long bath. Taste them to make sure they are done (they should be soft and pop in your mouth like peas do).
- Immediately remove the soup from heat. Add in your chopped mint and stir the soup a bit so that the minty goodness can seep out into the soup. Let the soup cool for a few minutes
- Puree the soup. Pulse quickly until you have it under control and then blend the soup together thoroughly.
- Pour into bowls and garnish with a healthy (or unhealthy) dollop of cream. Add a few mint leaves and sprinkle with lemon zest. Allow guests to salt and pepper to their taste.