Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Pea Soup from Michael Chiarello (food network)

This may be my Easter soup. It sounds great, but I would use frozen tiny peas.  I have rarely been able to find fresh peas that weren't old and starchy.  Frozen peas are reliably delicious and -- no shelling-- much less work.

Ingredients

* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 clove garlic, lightly crushed
* 1 1/2 cups sliced leek, white and pale green parts only
* 3/4 cup diced celery
* 2 1/4 cups chicken stock mixed with 2 1/4 cups water
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 4 1/2 cups shelled English peas (about 4 1/2 pounds unshelled)
* 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
* 1/8 teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid (1 tablet vitamin C crushed)
* Sea salt, preferably gray salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Creme fraiche, basil oil, finely sliced fresh chives, or prosciutto bits, optional

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the garlic and let it sizzle for about 1 minute, then add the sliced white and pale green parts of the leek and celery. Stir often while cooking until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Do not let them color. Then pour the diluted stock into the saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Add the cream to the vegetable mixture and bring to a simmer. Add the peas and return to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the peas are just tender, about 8 minutes. Add the parsley and thyme and simmer for 1 minute longer, then remove from the heat. Transfer in batches to a blender with the ascorbic acid and puree, adding more of the stock-water mixture as needed to thin the soup to a pleasing consistency. Pour soup into a bowl set in an ice bath and stir until cooled. (we want to cool it down as quickly as possible) Serve soup with optional garnishes.

Chef's Tip: Ascorbic acid helps keep the green color in pureed herbs and vegetables. If you have vitamin C tablets on hand, just crush one with a rolling pin and add it to the mixture in the blender. Note that you'll need a blender to puree the soup. A food processor doesn't make it smooth enough.

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