Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Pea Soup

My family comes from hardy English and Scottish stock, and my husband's heritage is also English with a good bit of Swedish in the mix. But on March 17th everyone is Irish for the day!

Back in the day, my mom would serve us green pancakes on St. Patrick's Day; just regular Bisquick pancakes with green food coloring. She had these fantastic little leprechaun-topped toothpicks that she would set on top. I loved them. My mom always found a way to make holidays fun for us. So that has always been my go-to St. Patty's Day supper.

Then, two summers ago, my husband did an internship in Cork, Ireland (I stayed home and took summer classes, PS, but I'm not bitter...). We would Skype every chance we could get, and he would go on and on about "mushy peas", which were served with fish & chips.  Have you ever had them? They are exactly what they sound like they would be: Peas all mushed up with butter, cream, salt and pepper. And they really are delicious!

But when I saw Ina Garten make this Pea Soup, I knew it would blow mushy peas out of the water, and likely replace green pancakes at our St. Patty's Day table -- at least this year. (Don't mess with me and traditions, man.)

I think part of what I love about this soup is that it is so perfectly early spring. It's fresh and light, yet substantial and flavorful. I also love that practically every ingredient in it is green. Green peas, green leeks, green mint and chives... It's perfect for St. Patrick's Day!

Another thing I love about this soup is the creme fraiche. If you haven't had it before, it can best be described as if sour cream took a trip to Paris and came back smoother and creamier. (See also Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn, but I digress) It's simple to make yourself using heavy cream and buttermilk (just google it -- it won't be hard to find), or you can easily substitute regular sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.

So this St. Patrick's Day, go listen to some Young Dubliners and slip into something green, then make this soup!

Fresh Pea Soup
from Ina Garten

2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
2 c. chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1 c. chopped yellow onion
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
2, 10 oz. packages frozen peas
2/3 c. chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. creme fraiche
1/2 c. chopped chives
Garlic croutons

Heat the butter or oil over medium-low heat, add the leeks and onion and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the stock, increasing the heat to high, and bring it to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the mint, salt, and pepper.

If you have an immersion/stick blender, stick it right in the pot and carefully puree until it's as smooth as you like it. Otherwise, puree the soup in batches in a regular blender or food processor. Once pureed, whisk in the creme fraiche and chives, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with a dollop of creme fraiche and some garlic croutons.

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