Thursday, September 01, 2005

Creamy Pea Soup

Source: Cook's Illustrated

Remove the peas from the freezer just before starting the soup so that when you are ready to process them, as the stock simmers, they will be only partially thawed. To preserve its delicate flavor and color, this soup is best served immediately. Croutons make a nice topping for this soup.

Makes about 6 1/2 cups, serving 4 to 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 medium shallots (about 5 ounces), minced (about 1 cup), or 1 medium leek, white and light green parts chopped fine (about 1 1/3 cups)
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth (sub vegetable broth for vegetarian version)
1 1/2 pounds frozen peas (about 4 1/2 cups), partially thawed at room temperature for 10 minutes (see note)
12 leaves Boston lettuce (about 3 ounces) from 1 small head, leaves washed and dried
1/2 cup heavy cream
Table salt and ground black pepper

This simple soup is a pleasing pale, creamy green and full of subtle flavor nuances.

1. Heat butter in large saucepan over low heat until foaming; add shallots or leeks and cook, covered, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Stirring constantly, gradually add chicken broth. Increase heat to high and bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process partially thawed peas until coarsely chopped, about 20 seconds. Add peas and lettuce to simmering broth. Increase heat to medium-high, cover and return to simmer; simmer 3 minutes. Uncover, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer 2 minutes longer.

3. Working in 2 batches, puree soup in blender until smooth; strain into large bowl. Rinse out and wipe saucepan; return pureed mixture to saucepan and stir in cream. Heat mixture over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

My notes: This soup is one of those recipes where the sum is greater than the parts. It's delicious. Simple, but delicious - or is it deliciously simple? Forever looking for ways to make things go faster, I used my immersion blender instead of a regular blender and I skipped the straining part. The texture was a bit coarse and it would be better to follow their directions, but I don't mind a few lumps here and there.

Interestingly enough, Cooks' Illustrated tested both fresh and frozen peas with this recipe and decided that frozen were actually better. Good thing - fresh are quite hard to find, at least around here. I was also curious about the reason for including lettuce leaves. They claim it had something to do with a delightful frothiness they provided when pureeing. I'm not sure they are absolutely necessary, but since the soup was great as written, I'd be hesitant to leave them out.

We had a wonderful pea soup at a restaurant last year that was lemony. I would seriously consider adding a bit of lemon to this soup next time.

I talked about this recipe HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment