This recipe celebrates the return of farmers’ markets after winter. Make the spring-bounty soup as soon as you get home from the market, to take the pressure off the dinner hour (see Menu Manager); or, you can shell the peas for this iconic spring brew while you chat with your dinner partner. (You can also use frozen petite peas; they’ll work almost as well.) The addition of toasted pistachios isn’t crucial, but they impart a nice nutty finish to a very fresh-tasting, pretty green soup.
¼ cup raw shelled pistachios
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium leeks, white parts only, coarsely chopped and rinsed well
3 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium purchased broth
1½ cups shelled fresh or thawed frozen green peas
¼ cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Spread the pistachios in a pie tin and toast in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring once or twice. Pour immediately onto a plate to cool. Set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Add the chicken stock and peas to the pan. Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the peas are very tender, about 8 minutes for fresh peas or 5 minutes for frozen.
5. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the mint. Using a hand-held blender, process the soup in the pan to a smooth purée. (Alternatively, purée in batches in a countertop blender, transferring each batch as it is finished to a bowl. Wipe the saucepan clean and return all of the puréed soup to the pan.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Just before serving, reheat the soup gently over low heat, if necessary. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Dollop 1 tablespoon of the crème fraîche on top of each serving and sprinkle each bowl generously with the toasted pistachios. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Small Gatherings by Jessica Strand (Egg & Dart Press, May 2013)
Image by Sheri Giblin.