You cannot get too far into my blog without knowing how highly I think of peas. If I were a character in a fairy tale, I might just be the princess and the pea, because I can be somewhat fussy about things. I can taste hidden ingredients in food that shouldn’t be there. I have to cut the tags out of my pajamas and cover the little green light on the flat screen TV so I can sleep. Okay, that might be too much information, but it just means that besides being (ahem) slightly high maintenance with small things, I have a sensitivity for the visual, the tactile, and of course, taste and smell. This means I know when to stop adding seasonings and when the texture is just right. And, this translates to perfect pureed soups.
I truly believe that peas make the world a better place. I’m not talking about the dull green, sodium-infused slimy peas most people ate in the school cafeteria. I’m talking about bright, green jeweled beauties that still have a bite to them and a fresh taste that shouts spring. Unlike many green spring edibles, peas are substantial, but not heavy like other legumes. They can sit as a bed for poached eggs, or gourmet meatballs. They decorate pasta and make a complete dish in seconds.
The perplexing thing about peas is that they are considered a legume, but can be eaten raw out of the pod. They are botanically a fruit, but considered a vegetable for cooking. No matter what the truth is, peas are very different from beans as far as what they do for a dish. Beans weigh a dish down, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as beans are healthy, high in fiber, etc. etc. But peas tend to “brighten” a dish while still adding substance, because they are sweet. They take to butter and to olive oil in a fabulous way and they welcome acid, especially lemon. They complement herbs, such as basil, mint, thyme and tarragon. They marry well with onions, garlic and especially shallots. There is something more regal about peas than beans or corn. And the one thing they have, above all, is their state of freshness when frozen. Frozen peas are nearly as good as fresh and much easier to come by. I’ve shelled my own for lots of dollars and time because the season is fairly short and shelling peas makes me feel happy and earthy. But, day in and day out, a bag of organic frozen peas can do a lot for a tasty kitchen.
The recipe for this soup is not really much of a recipe. You can certainly experiment. You can use fresh peas, but I probably wouldn’t, as I would save those for fresh pasta and peas or risotto with peas. This recipe is best made with frozen peas which are at everyone’s disposal. The fancier components are the shallots and fresh tarragon. It’s a flavor profile perfectly suited to peas.
You might substitute Italian parsley and thyme, but don’t substitute the shallots if you can help it. They have their own unique place in flavoring peas.
This has the addition of pea shoots, which also make a great salad on their own,especially served with spring strawberries and a champagne vinaigrette.
This version is taken through sieve for a silky smooth texture. Some days, I like my soup thick and some days, I do feel like the princess and the pea and very particular about texture.
- 1 pound frozen peas, divided (do not thaw)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1½ cups shallots sliced
- 4 cups water
- 1 carrot, 1 celery
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, divided (extra for garnish)
- Pea shoots for garnish
- Lemon to squeeze when serving.
- Cook peas in 4 cups of boiling water. Add carrot celery, some tarragon.
- As soon as peas are nearly cooked, remove peas, (take out carrot and celery)and use this water for the broth.
- In large sauce pan, saute shallots in olive oil. Add peas, 2 tablespoons tarragon, and cook until peas are tender. Using immersion blender, puree until completely smooth. You may need to add more water. Season with salt and pepper. As an option you can take through a sieve for a more silkier texture. Both are good choices.