I had planned to make a fresh pea and rice dish for Miriam’s birthday dinner yesterday. After I had bought the peas, she told me she really didn’t like peas. Not a problem, Jan and Eilene love peas, so I agreed to make them fresh pea soup.
I searched on-line for ideas. While none of the soups I found were exactly what I had in mind, I took ingredient ideas from several. This one had mint, that one included carrots, another used English cucumbers. I have bits of these left over from other dishes in my refrigerator. I had also bought some Chipolini onions for the rice dish. While not a vegetable bin cleaning soup, it would still use some things in my refrigerator that might otherwise go to waste.
Some of the recipes I found had so many ingredients that you probably could not taste the peas. I wanted my soup to be smooth and creamy, but the star of the show should be the fresh peas. I would only use additions that complimented the pea flavor.
One of Jan’s friends gave her some baby carrots. These were too small and too few to make as a dish by themselves. I could have added them to a salad, but I decided that they would play a supporting role in this soup. My leftover cucumber could also add a subtle something without drowning out the peas.
For the sweet Chipolini onions, I am thinking that I will leave most of them whole. This will confine their flavor to discreet bites and add some texture to the soup. It will also prevent it from becoming onion soup with peas. A touch of garlic and a bit of salt and pepper would also be nice.
Note: I considered leaving out the garlic, but in this household they would not think it tasted right without at least a little garlic. If you do not like garlic, you are free to leave it out.
Some chicken broth will give the soup some depth. Just a touch of cream for the body. Finally, mint and peas are a classic pairing. I have some fresh mint left over from yesterday’s dinner, but I will add just a hint.
Note: This soup will serve four as a starter or two as a main dish. How many Chipolini onions you use depends on your diners. I want three whole onions per person and three to chop up, to give just a hint of onion flavor to the soup.
After Dinner Note: Jan really liked this soup. She especially liked the burst of flavor of the whole onions.
Karl’s Fresh Pea Soup
9-15 Chipolini onions, separate uses
1 Tbs. olive oil
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup English cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
¼ cup baby carrots, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, sliced
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 can low sodium chicken broth (for Vegan use vegetable broth)
2 cups fresh peas (about 2 ½ lb. in the pods, you may use frozen)
1+ Tbs. fresh mint, minced
¼ cup half and half (leave out or use coconut milk for Vegan)
1. Peel the onions and chop up three of them.
Tip: Chipolini onions are small (1-1 ½ inches) and flat. Leave most of them whole.
2. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a soup pot and lay the whole onions in the oil. Fry them, over medium high heat, for two minutes without disturbing them.
Tip: The onions should be well browned and caramelized, but not burnt.
3. Turn the onions over and fry on the second side for two minutes. Remove the onions from the pot and reserve.
4. Add the chopped onion and salt to the pot and sauté for one minute.
5. Add the carrots and cucumber to the pot and continue sautéing for two more minutes.
6. Add the garlic and pepper and sauté one minute more.
7. Stir in the chicken broth and the reserved onions. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
Tip: Make sure that none of the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pot.
8. Stir in the peas and mint. Continue simmering, covered, for five more minutes.
9. Remove the whole onions and two to three tablespoons of the peas. Set them aside.
10. Put the soup in a standing blender and process until smooth.
11. Return the soup to the pot and add the half and half. Warm the soup, but do not boil.
12. Put the soup into individual bowls and distribute the onions and peas evenly between the bowls.
13. Garnish with mint and serve.