Cooking is an expression of my creativity. I like to go to farmers' markets and wander around looking at all the beautiful, fresh, seasonal produce and get inspired. When an ingredient grabs my attention, I start thinking about what I can create with that ingredient and what dishes I am craving.
This week I was excited to see English peas, and couldn't wait to make soup. I'm a big fan of soup, and a simple, light soup is perfect for this time of year with the weather warming up. Just add some fresh herbs to take a simple soup to an extraordinary level of flavor. I paired mint with peas to create what is now my new favorite soup.
Lucky for me, kitchen enthusiasm is contagious. My 5 year old really wanted to help make dinner and was excited to shell all the peas. Wow, that was a big help. If you can find fresh peas already shelled at the market, I think it's worth it.
Furthermore, I am pleased to hear that my blog has been inspiring others to make more home cooked meals. I have received many beautiful emails from family and friends who are telling me that I am a positive influence, and that they are enjoying success in the kitchen. My cousin Marla even got her mother's old recipe file box so she can cook some favorite childhood dishes. I can't wait to hear about her results. So thank you for reading my blog and letting me know that cooking is contagious.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 celery stocks, chopped small
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
4 pounds fresh, English peas in the shell (or about 2-¾ cups shelled peas)
1 tablespoon white wine (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, a few grinds
¼ cup scant, loosely packed mint leaves (about 15 small leaves)
Croutons for serving
1. Shell the peas.
2. In a small soup pot, heat the olive oil on low. Add the celery, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the leeks, stir, cover and cook until the celery and leeks are soft, about 5 minutes more.
3. Add the chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Then add the peas, and simmer for 4 minutes. When the peas are tender, remove pot from flame. Add the wine (optional), salt, and pepper and stir.
4. When the soup cools slightly, pour the soup into a blender and add the mint leaves. Work in two batches if necessary. Take care with warm liquid in the blender: only fill the blender half way, and hold a kitchen towel over the lid. Turn the blender on low for 30 seconds. Then blend on high for a minute until the soup is fully puréed.
5. Serve soup immediately with croutons.
6. Alternatively, to serve the soup later, cool the soup down quickly in an ice bath to preserve its bright green color. Make an ice bath by taking a large bowl and filling it half way with ice cubes. Then place a slightly smaller bowl on the ice (use a stainless steel bowl, if possible). Pour the soup into the bowl on ice, and stir slowly until the soup is room temperature. Refrigerate the soup until almost ready to serve. Reheat soup gently, and remove from the flame as soon as the soup is warm.
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