English Pea Soup
Springtime is the season for fresh sweet peas. I love the vibrant color of this legume, and when I think of eating in a colorful way, peas are always high up on my list. Maybe because their gentle sweetness is a delice and creates a nice contrast with savory dishes, or maybe because it reminds me – and I believe a lot of us – of our first encounters with veggies as children.
Peas have been around for millennia in the Mediterranean basin as well as in the Near and Far East. Dry peas – like lentils and fava beans – would keep for years and help feed the population through winter months. It’s only in the 17th century that the immature form of the pods, namely the very tender garden peas, became fashionable in many European Courts. They were introduced to the U.S. by the early European settlers. Thomas Jefferson became the first to grow peas extensively and he contributed to the rapid popularity of this legume.
Peas stay green even after cooking, while lots of other vegetables lose their shine when blanched or roasted. This happens because peas are rich in chlorophyll, a pigment that plays an essential role in the process of photosynthesis, thanks to which the plant can transform sunlight into energy.
Chlorophyll is also beneficial to human beings, as it is a proven antioxidant, that helps reduce inflammation, can have detox effects on the body, and supports digestive health by growing the good gut bacteria. It is also known to have a laxative effect. These characteristics are, by the way, common to many other green vegetables.
One more reason to love peas: they are very rich in fiber and quickly give you a sense of satiety. Loving food, I tend to find it difficult to stop eating before feeling satiated: peas help you reach that threshold faster and in a healthier way, as they are not so rich in calories.
There are many ways to prepare peas; the pea soup that I propose to you here is extremely simple, delicious, and nourishing. I prefer to have it completely pureed: smooth and velvety. But you can opt of course for more texture keeping it a little chunkier.
For 3 Servings
- 500 grams fresh garden peas
- 1 small yellow sweet onion
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- A bunch of fresh mint
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- Sliced Kumquats for decoration or a chopped colorful sweet pepper
- Micro Greens for decoration
1. Chop the onion roughly, sauté in a nonstick pot with EV olive oil
2. When translucent, add 1 ½ cup of lukewarm water and some salt as desired.
3. When the water is boiling, add the peas. Let cook for 5 minutes.
4. Remove a couple of tablespoons of peas and keep aside.
5. With an immersion blender or in the food processor mix the soup until completely pureed. Add 5-6 leaves of fresh mint, as well as the whole peas set aside, and the lemon juice. Pulse until when you have some green speckles of mint and a few pieces of peas.
6. Adjust with salt and pepper, plate, drizzle with some more EV Olive oil. Decorate with a mint leaf in the center. Serve warm.
A Few Notes:
- If you would like to enhance the sweetness of the peas, add a tablespoon of honey.
- You can add some sliced Kumquats on top as decoration, or some colorful chopped pepper.
- This is a vegan recipe. If you prefer vegetarian, I suggest sprinkling some crumbled goat cheese in the center. The sour taste of the goat cheese pairs very well with the sweetness of the peas.
- It is proven that frozen peas keep all the nutritional properties of the fresh ones. So, if you want to have this soup in other times of the year, you can use frozen petite peas, particularly tasty.
Elisabetta Ciardullo is the founder of Think Italian! Events. As Personal Chef she is an ambassador of the Italian cuisine and culture, bringing it into the private homes of Americans, as well as to many corporate clients in Los Angeles.