Some people meet for coffee, or perhaps a cocktail. I have a group of friends that meets for soup. At least, we used to. In this time of Corona, soup is no more a rallying cry.
Yet soup abides. It’s been one of my mainstays since lockdown began in March. I’ve been making familiar soups and trying recipes I’ve never made before, like parsnip bisque and potato leek. Soup sustains me, even without a crowd.
Studies suggest soup is so appealing because there’s a connection between physical warmth and social warmth. Perhaps it’s also the texture, which will never be chewy or tough. Rich and hearty or light and smooth, clear broth or spicy stew, soup is the ultimate comfort meal.
One soup in particular stands out in my memory, though I had nothing more than a taste. A lunch companion ordered green pea soup when we were having lunch at a French place in Midtown. I tried some, and immediately had diner’s remorse for not ordering it myself.
The other day I was paging through Vikas Khanna’s book “Flavors First,” published by Lake Isle Press, and found a Spring Onion and Pea Soup. A chance to see if I can recreate what I missed.
It’s a bonus that this recipe is conveniently scaled for four servings so I didn’t need to freeze any leftovers. This is a good thing because at the moment my freezer is so chock full I can’t fit anything else in. That I was able to use two frozen things-peas and a bag of veggie scraps-in order to make this was a double bonus.
It’s a simple recipe that comes together in two steps. Step One is to simmer peas and scallions in vegetable stock, then puree. I opted to do that with an immersion blender rather than a countertop model or food processor, which definitely made clean up easier.
The immersion blender also came in handy for Step Two, which is to make a roux and mix in the pea puree. My roux stayed a little lumpy, and I was afraid it was getting too thick while I tried to smooth it out. After adding the puree I gave the whole thing a few shots with the blender, then I added a little more veggie broth along with and a squirt of lemon. Yum.
Elegant and flavorful; I will make this again, and am looking forward to trying it in the spring when fresh peas are in season. Perhaps with a drizzle of heavy cream?
This recipe would be at home on the menu of any brasserie-like the one where I first tasted my friend’s pea soup. Yet I discovered it in a book that features mostly recipes from Indian culinary traditions. But since “Flavors First” is also about bright, fresh flavors and bridging culinary divides, it sounds about right. There’s much comfort in that.
Spring Onion and Pea Soup
1 pound fresh or frozen peas, thawed
3 spring onions or scallions, chopped
3 3/4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring the peas, onions, water or vegetable stock, and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for another 10 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes and purée the mixture in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to make a roux. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, until the roux is dissolved. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the puréed pea mixture and cook until soup is heated through; remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Originally published at https://www.lakeislepress.com on September 2, 2020.