When I hear the words pea soup, two things come to my mind: split pea soup, and baby food. This isn’t to say all split pea soups (or all baby foods) are bad, but let’s just say I’m not a huge fan.
This soup, thankfully, is neither of those things. Far from it — it’s light, bright, and packed with fresh pea flavor (think super sweet peas picked straight off the vine). And that color? Totally au-natural. No photoshop was used in the making of that forest green shade, I promise.
As many of you who follow along with my kitchen endeavors have probably noticed, I haven’t been doing much cooking lately. There are two reasons for that. First, the heat has finally arrived here in Michigan, which means I’ve been subsisting mostly on cold things (such as this soup, which is great warm or cold), and carry out. But there’s another reason, too. A reason I am far, far too excited about.
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you have undoubtedly seen me geeking out over the pottery classes I’ve been taking these past few weeks. Those bowls that lovely green soup is resting in? I made those. With my own two hands, a hunk of clay, and some kind of crazy witchcraft known as a pottery wheel. I’m still pinching myself. I can’t even begin to put into words how cool it is to take what is basically a hunk of dirt, put your hands on it, and watch it transform into something right beneath your fingers. Playing in the mud hasn’t been this much fun since I was in diapers.
I’ve always admired handmade ceramics, but the moment I set my eyes (err, hands) on a pottery wheel, I became completely obsessed. Like, staying up until three AM watching pottery videos on youtube every night, obsessed. I’ve been so consumed, I can hardly think about anything else.
Except food, because, duh.
This soup was inspired by a Thomas Keller recipe, which I had the pleasure of tasting a few weeks ago at a friend’s private event. First I was struck by the color (I mean, come on), then I tasted it, and knew I had to make it for myself. (Just as soon as I finished watching ALL OF THE POTTERY VIDEOS.)
This recipe is my own take on things, but it still retains Keller’s killer technique for blanching the peas in boiling water with lots of sugar and salt. That quick boil introduces the most incredible flavor to the peas, and is pretty much the only seasoning this soup needs.
Then there’s the lemon creme fraiche drizzle, which not only highlights that pea flavor, but is just about the easiest way to make people think you have mad skills, without actually needing to have mad skills. Just stir, drizzle, and serve. Easy peasy!
You see what I did there? Eh? Seriously though, this whole soup is a snap to make. It’s sure to peas. It’ll put a spring (pea) in your step. Okay, okay, I’m done…
All I’m saying is give peas a chance.
Okay, now I’m done.
- 3½ lbs fresh peas, shelled (or 3 ½ cups frozen peas)
- 3 quarts water
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup water, plus more as needed
- 4 oz. creme fraiche
- Zest of one lemon, plus 1 TBSP juice
- drizzle of good quality olive oil, optional
- Pea shoots for garnish, optional
- Bring water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a large pot. Add half of the peas, and boil for 6-8 minutes for fresh, or 4-5 minutes for frozen, or until tender.
- Fill a large bowl with water and ice, and have it standing by when the peas are done cooking. Remove the peas from the pot with a skimmer or slotted spoon, and place them directly into the ice bath. This will stop the cooking, and help preserve their bright color. Return the water to a boil and repeat with the rest of the peas.
- Drain the cooked peas from the ice water, and add them to a blender or food processor. Add ½ cup fresh water, and puree until completely smooth. If the mixture is too thick to blend, add more water as needed.
- Pass the puree through a tamis or fine mesh sieve. (This step is optional, especially if you have a really powerful blender, but I prefer the consistency of the soup once it's been sieved). Use a scraper or rubber spatula to press all the liquid through.
- Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If the consistency is too thick, add more water to thin as needed. Optionally, stir in a TBSP or so of good quality olive oil, to enhance the velvety texture of the soup and add flavor.
- Soup can be warmed on the stove, or chilled in the fridge before serving. I like it both ways depending on my mood, so try it hot and cold and see which you prefer.
- When you're ready to serve, whisk together the creme fraiche, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Serve alongside the soup, or drizzle it over to garnish (you can thin the creme fraiche with a bit more lemon juice, or water, to create a drizzleable consistency). Serve as is, or garnish with fresh pea sprouts.
In Keller's original recipe, he uses truffle oil to give a more savory quality to this soup. Personally, I'm not a big fan of truffle oil, and find that it can overpower the delicate pea flavor very easily (no offense to Keller). Instead I chose to keep things as simple as possible with just a bit of olive oil, but you could easily use other oils (like toasted walnut oil, or garlic oil) to add your own flavor twist.