I hated peas when I was a kid. Though, come to think of it, is there any kid that doesn’t hate peas? In my case, I remember them as these mushy, green orbs that were always a part of a traditional Greek tomato-based sauce we call yahni. They tasted grassy (which to a kid, is pretty much like eating dirt) and were wrinkly looking, like old skin.
As an adult, I changed my mind about peas when I tasted fresh ones, just shelled from their snuggly pods, lightly steamed, and tossed with some melted butter and sea salt. Their flavor was nutty and their texture was soft but with a bite. Alas, fresh peas are only around in late fall. But thanks to my friend JC, I realized that there was another way I could love peas: in a soup. The first time I had a version of this pea soup that he made, I asked him for the recipe. When he told it was basically just peas, I was amazed. And the best part is that since the peas get blended to a smooth liquid, frozen ones work just fine.
This pea soup is a dinner party staple in our household. It’s super simple to prepare and it makes for an elegant and delicious appetizer. It’s also amenable to improvising. Here, I’ve served it with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, which has a deep toasted nut flavor that compliments the creaminess of the peas beautifully. And since it’s the season for ramps right now, I fried a few in some hot oil until crispy, and added them on top of the soup.
Pea Soup with Fried Ramps and Pumpkin Seed Oil
Note: This soup can be made vegetarian by using 1 cup of vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and adding no milk. Instead of the ramps and pumpkin seed oil, you can top it with anything you like. Some suggestions are: a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, fried shallots, chopped nuts, walnut oil or almond oil.
10oz of frozen peas, thawed in the refrigerator*
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper
* My favorite brand is Cascadian Farm, Premium Organic Sweet Peas, but any good brand will do.
In a blender, add thawed peas, chicken stock, and milk. Blend until the soup is completely smooth. If your blender doesn’t completely blend the peas and you want a perfectly smooth soup, you can strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer.
Pour blended soup in a small pot and add salt and pepper to taste. Heat over medium heat, stirring often.
Serve with a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil and a few chopped ramps that you have fried in hot vegetable oil until crispy (optional).
Yield: 2 servings