Finally, Fresh Pea Soup Defined

Peas loving their own pods with a potato sidekick.

Old subject, new take…
My take on peas and fresh pea soup has been evolving over the years as chronicled on eats…


June 2006

Sweet Pea & Green Garlic Soup by Janet Fletcher, SF Chronicle — where chicken (or vegetable) broth makes the soup soupy…

May 2009

English Peas and…
in this case, pasta, inspired by Tom Colicchio’s book, “Think Like a Chef.”

April 2010
Fresh Peas and other fresh things… where I took off from a recipe sent by son Eric:

Fresh Pea Soup
“Here’s what we’ve been serving on our table recently. Recipes from Eric & Alison’s Tilth Table, November 1998 (From the River Cafe Cook Book)”

It is real good, but fairly standard, using chicken broth as the soupy vehicle.

December 2011

carrots x 3 + peas
I made this dinner back in fresh English pea season, but then got involved with going to Kyiv and so on. I finally got around to publishing it because the colors are so fresh and beautiful.

tri-colored carrots

May 2011

Fresh Pea Soup
I’ve been working on the perfect fresh pea soup for some time. After a few tries, I found one from The Washington Post that made some sense to me.

“A surprising amount of flavor can be coaxed from spent pea pods by simmering them in water.”

Why wouldn’t anybody think of that?

Which brings us to this Farmers Market week and those peas.

pea pods and scallions in water

spent, the pea pods have given their color and flavor to the water, making a fine pea broth

about seven cups broth

I made the pea pod broth the day ahead. When I started prepping for the soup for real, I got to thinking (always either dangerous or creative)… Almost every pureed vegetable soup — carrot, cauliflower, asparagus, and so on — uses a potato or two for thickening… why not this one? So when I chopped the onion, I chopped up a white potato and added it while the onion was finishing its saute.

nice warm pea soup for dinner… served with Burger’s BBQ St Louis Pork Ribs

Perfectomente. The potato adds a thickness and pushes forward the richness of the butter and makes the soup just really good. I think I’ve got it!

And as a final test, I got out my quart jar of refrigerated soup. C heated hers. I served mine chilled with the addition of crispy cubes of Spam tossed with noodles to warm. I don’t mind saying, that was a fabulous cooling lunch on a hot hot (97) day.

chilled fresh pea soup lunch with warm noodles and crispy meat cubes

Chilled Fresh Pea Soup [mine]
The Washington Post, April 13, 2005
Adapted from “A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen,” by Jack Bishop (Houghton Mifflin, 2004). Revised by mr 6/6/08

Makes about 10 cups

Shell one bag of peas (about 2 1/4 pounds in-the-pod = 2 cups shelled peas, or 12 ounces) scrub the pods and reserve both peas and pods.

Pour about 10 cups water in a large pot, add the empty pea pods, a chopped bunch of scallions (about 6) and 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer briskly for 20 minutes. Strain the broth, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve the broth; you should have about 6 cups.

Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in the empty saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 2 chopped onions, 1 teaspoon each salt and sugar. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes, add one diced potato and cook all until the onion and potato are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes more. Add the peas and 5 cups broth, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Simmer briskly for 3 minutes. Add 4 cups chopped tender green Boston lettuce leaves, and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Reserve about 1/2 cup whole peas for garnish and puree the balance of the soup in batches in a blender until very smooth. Serve warm or, if desired, cover and refrigerate until chilled through.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls adding some whole peas to each bowl. If desired, top with a dollop of cream and/or scattering of mint.

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