I’m not quite ready to give up hot soup in the spring, but I definitely want an “enlightened” change from the hearty ones of winter. We buy local peas from Migliorelli Farm and sell them at Gigi Market, and this soup frequently appears on our restaurant “specials” list throughout the spring. To test the quality of snap peas, snap one open and see whether it is crisp. The pods should be bright green, firm, and plump.
Yield: Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, sliced
One 8-ounce russet potato, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the potato cubes, peas, and wine and simmer, stirring, until the wine is reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 4 cups of water and the tarragon, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are falling apart, 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer the soup to a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into serving bowls and garnish with more tarragon.
• Mint would be a great substitute for the tarragon.
• Substitute frozen peeled fava beans and a dash of fresh lemon juice.
Drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil or top with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche.
Simmer the soup to the desired thickness and use it as a sauce for pan-seared red snapper or grilled chicken.
When cooked and pureed, potato “creams” the soup without adding any dairy. If you prefer a traditional cream soup, add 1/3 cup cream or ½ cup whole milk during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Peas are rich in the B vitamins folate and B6 (both supportive of cardiovascular health) and are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. They also contain good amounts of vitamin K1, which activates osteocalcin, a protein that is critical for bone health.
When in season, fresh peas are relatively inexpensive and are a great excuse to get the young ’uns in the kitchen shelling. Good-quality frozen peas have plenty of nutrient value (they are simply picked and flash-frozen).