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Chunky Pea Soup

Yes, this soup is every bit as bright and green on the palate as the photo would suggest it is on the plate — and more than satisfying! The flavors are fresh and clean, the body displaying a slight but toothsome crunch, and the colors, well . . . . there couldn’t be more shades of lovely green in one place. Make this to serve as a starter course, or for supper alongside a Caramelized Onion Tart. Or, maybe with Cheese and Chutney Scones. Or, simply with a loaf of crusty bread. But make it now. You won’t be disappointed.

True story: the first time we made this soup we used pea shoots from the garden which were less (much less!) than tender, and while it was clear that the recipe was a keeper in terms of the taste, we spent the rest of the evening picking pea stem fibers from out teeth. DO make the effort to find tender pea shoots — we find ours at Whole Foods, near the lettuces. The most economical package contains a whole pound of pea shoots, but they hold well in the fridge and we find them to be just as wonderful in green salads as they are in this soup!

Chunky Pea Soup

5 tbs. olive oil
5 shallots, peeled, halved and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 celery heart, including leaves, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthways and thinly sliced (about 1 ½ cups)
10 oz. frozen peas
1 qt. chicken stock
4 oz. tender pea shoots, coarsely chopped, plus a few extra to serve
3 large handfuls of basil leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the shallots, celery, and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened, stirring frequently. Add the leeks, ½ tsp. salt and some freshly ground black pepper, and cook 4-5 minutes more until glossy, stirring occasionally. Stir in the peas, add the stock, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped pea shoots, if using, and cook for a further minute.

Place the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor, then ladle half the soup out of the pot in on top. Purée roughly and return to the pan with the rest of the soup; taste for seasoning. Serve with a pea shoot or two in the middle of each bowl, and a bit of olive oil drizzled over.

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