Food makes me happy. And cooking for friends, gardening (on a little piece of a Brooklyn deck right now), and sharing tasty ideas makes me even happier. So I figured what better way to spread some of this happiness than to start sharing my food, recipes and tips with friends -- some of whom I haven’t met yet. I hope you enjoy...

Monday, August 8, 2011

Peas Out

Suggested listening while reading this post:

Yesterday I competed in "Some Like It Cold", the soup competition and fundraiser for the claque ( hosted at the Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg. 

Not only was the entire process a ton of fun, I learned a lot along the way.  Turns out making 3 gallons of soup is a very different process than making a couple bowls for dinner. 

 In "Shell Shocked" I talked about picking up 12 pounds of peas at the Green Market in Union Square... I spent that day shelling them on my deck and getting a little sunburn, let them chill for a while and then woke up early Sunday morning (thank goodness... I didn't anticipate just how much time I'd really need) and started on the soup.  Seven hours later -- since I made this on such a large scale and it (and I) needed time to chill -- I headed over the Huckleberry Bar feeling very happy with what I'd made.  But there were a few hiccups along the way.  I'd made this soup before -- but in June.  Shelling peas are softer and sweeter earlier in the season, and so I had to cook them for a while longer than I had in the past.  I added a touch of honey to balance out the soup and add some understated sweetness.  And scaling up meant that I needed to cook about six batches -- that took a long time and a lot of herbs.  Fortunately, I have a beautiful and bountiful garden growing on my deck that I was able to pick from, and a sweet husband who helped me keep things moving along nicely.

The competition was very cool (haha).  There were about 15 different cold soups there but to my surprise, not one gazpacho.  There were a few Asian-inspired soups including a drunken chicken, two vichyssoise, an "A - Z" (apple to zucchini with ingredients between), a cucumber jalapeno, and a delicious vegetarian avocado and fresh salsa soup. When people started coming up to me for seconds and thirds, I knew things were going well.  I ended up taking 2nd place -- not bad for my first competition.  The 1st place winner made a sweet melon and prosciutto soup with 20 honeydews and a mango, and in 3rd was a tasty bacon vichyssoise. 

Here's my recipe, scaled down to make two cool and comforting bowls... instead of 50 ;)

Sweet Theresa’s chilled shelled pea and garden mint soup with homemade garlic croutons and garden herb-infused oil

Serves 2


 For the soup:
- Vegetable oil for sauteing

- 1 leek

- 1 lb of un-shelled English peas
(if you're buying your peas late in the season -- say August, you can add just a touch of honey to the soup to bring in some sweetness)
- 1 tsp concentrated chicken stock (I like to use
Better Than Bouillon; if you would like to make a vegetarian version of this soup, you can use vegetable stock)
- ⅔ cup of mint leaves

- 1 handful of parsley

- Filtered water (start with ¾ cup and add additional water as needed to reach desired consistency)

- 2 tbsp crème fraiche, plus 2 dallops for the top (
Vermont Creamery makes a great product)
Freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste, though the chicken stock will add salt

For the croutons:

- 1 tbsp butter

- 1 clove of garlic

- A good quality baguette

For herb-infused oil

- Raid your garden (or vegetable crisper) and get a handful of whichever herbs you’d like (for this soup, I prefer mint, parsley and basil)

- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

1) Shell your fresh peas; if you have the means and the weather agrees, I suggest you do this outside on a sunny day... it really adds to the experience; and thoroughly clean and then finely slice your leek, using all of the white part and a little bit of the green; these guys are notorious for hiding dirt, so make sure to check between the layers

2) Saute your leek in vegetable oil and chicken stock in a soup pot over medium heat until soft; this should take less than 5 minutes

3) Add your shelled peas and some filtered water and cook through until soft; the cooking time will vary depending on when in the season you’ve picked up your fresh peas... if it’s early June and your peas are young and very sweet, they’ll cook more quickly than if it’s later in the season and they’ve become a bit starchier; if needed you can always add in a handful of high-quality frozen peas to ensure the understated sweetness of your soup, or  you can add just a touch of honey to the soup -- nothing wrong with that

4) Once everything is cooked through, add the mint and parsley; you can give it a chop before hand but don’t need to worry about getting it too fine... this soup is about to go into the blender

5) Remove your pan from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes or so; then add the soup to a blender (in batches if needed) and puree until smooth

6) Pour the soup mixture back into your pot or whichever bowl you would like to serve it from, and stir in the crème fraiche

7) Now it’s time to let the soup chill; put it into the fridge and start on the herb-infused oil and croutons

8) Heat your oven to 275 degrees and slice a few pieces of bread off of a good quality baguette; I like mine cut into long strips large enough to last through my soup

9) Saute 1 clove of very finely chopped garlic in butter for a few minutes until lightly browned; then coat the bread with the warm garlic butter and warm in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes

10) The herb-infused oil couldn’t be easier to make; throw your herbs and oil in the blender and puree; then filter the oil through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth -- you’re done

11) Once your soup in chilled, serve it with a dallop of crème fraiche, and drizzle of herb-infused oil; take your crouton and give it all a good stir

12) Enjoy!

Peas out...

1 comment:

  1. It was SO good! The soup, the croutons and especially the herb oil...yummy! #1 in my book!