|Pea Soup with Pea Shoot and Mint Salad|
I like to read old cookbooks that not only contain recipes, but include suggested menus. One of the things that I find amusing is that all of the dinner party, company-coming-for-dinner and holiday gathering menus always begin with a soup course and then move on to the salad.
I've had the occasional dinner party where soup was the starter, but those affairs were few and far between. It's a lot of extra work putting together a soup on top of all of the other menu items and soup requires depth, which means you need good stock, which means you have to make stock. That said, it's pretty easy to see why the whole "Let's start with the soup course," fell out of favor. But there are many easily and quickly prepared soups that require an alarming lack of effort, but provide big returns. This pea soup is one of those soups.
If you're still planning your Easter menu, I urge you to give this a try. You can serve it warm, but I like to serve it slightly chilled with a dollop of créme frâiche and a sprinkle of parmesan. It's topped with a chopped salad of pea shoots and mint gently mixed with champagne vinegar and if you'd like, you can always add a few croutons.
*Don't stress over using frozen peas. I once heard an interview with Wolfgang Puck and he said that frozen peas weren't the lesser choice, but the best choice for making chilled pea soup.
1 package frozen peas
1 quart organic chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 package pea shoots
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 small bunch of chives, or 3 green onions, green part only
1. In a blender, in batches, pureé peas and chicken broth until smooth.
2. Blend in enough heavy cream to give the soup body and substance and just a hint of a pale creamy hue.
3. Add a tablespoon or two of champagne vinegar and salt and pepper to taste; chill.
5. Coarsely chop pea shoots and mint; mince the chives/green onions.
6. Mix the pea shoots and mint together in a small bowl with olive oil and champagne vinegar; add the chives/green onion and season with salt and pepper. Toss in a handful of parmesan cheese.
7. To serve, ladle the soup into shallow bowls. Place a dollop of créme friâiche on top and then a mound of the salad. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh ground black pepper.