Pea Soup

Pea soup with croutons. Bowls: foreground:Amaco Chun Plum over SPS Sand Opaque, background: Mayco Capri Blue

Old favorite. Depending on how many times it was reheated, it could get quite thick. Definitely a recipe with many variations for serving suggestions. The basic thing to remember is that this is basically an Italian soffritto with a pulse or bean added to it.

The Soup

  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 cup finely diced carrot
  • garlic to taste
  • 6 cup frozen peas
  • 4 cups chicken stock/broth. I imagine a veggie stock would work as well.
  • about a cup of diced ham (optional)… I got the deli to give me a 1/2″-3/4″ slice off the deli ham and diced it up. A ham hock on the bone would also be good.

This is a pretty basic soup construction. you cook some vegetables to soften them, add a broth and then cook together for as long as you like. You should be able to substitute any sort of pulse or bean for the peas here. The big difference maker in this recipe is how long you cook the soup after the peas (or whatever) are added. It really depends on what you like things to taste like. I grew up with a long cooked pea flavor, and find the fresh pea flavor in this context a little weird. This is a decision best left to the eater, so come the last step, you may serve at any point after the frozen peas melt.

  1. heat up a dutch oven pot. something with a lid, and if you like the long cooked flavor, something you can put in the oven. I imagine an instant pot might work for this too, but I haven’t got one, so let me know if it works.
  2. sauté the onions in a little oil until softened. you should start to see a fond form in the bottom of the pot.
  3. add the garlic and stir a bit, just to cook it a little
  4. add the celery and carrots and cook for a bit to soften. (opinions vary about the order here. if you want to soften the carrot and celery more you might add them first and then the onion, but I like to actually brown the onions just a little and that’s easier to do if you do them first. Since I put everything through the blender at the end, it makes less difference texture wise, but the browning helps the onion flavor.)
  5. this is where I would add the diced ham.
  6. add the broth/stock.
  7. bring to simmer for a little bit.
  8. add the peas and bring back to a simmer. Cook covered until you are happy with the flavor of the peas.

This is where you have to make a decision. as soon as the soup returns to a simmer, the peas have defrosted and are pretty much ready to eat. If it is your intention to eat the soup now, I would let the soup simmer for a bit longer at step #7 before adding the peas. If you want to wait a bit, add the peas and simmer the whole thing for about an hour and serve directly. Optionally, you can remove the bone and run the whole thing through a blender.

My way (or at least the way I inherited, and the way that is pictured above) is to leave the lid on and stick in a 200º oven overnight to let it soften and thicken and then finally run through a blender. I have happy memories of a soup so thick the spoon would leave a divot.

Important to note that I have deliberately left seasoning out of this recipe, as it can take on a large number of flavors. Some dill might be nice, Jen suggests Tarragon, family tradition leans towards Oregano. A bit of salt wouldn’t hurt either. Curry style flavoring would also probably go over well, especially if you replace the peas with lentils or something similar.

The Crouton

Croutons are simple. You can find the Italian style bread elsewhere on this site or others, but a sort of coarse bread works better.

  1. dice bread to size of your liking. 1/2″-3/4″ cube is good
  2. place in bowl and season to taste. see above for some suggestions, if you want to marry the flavor of the crouton to the soup.
  3. sprinkle with oil and toss to moisten the bread.
  4. bake in 350º oven until lightly toasted. leave in oven to dry out a bit. (all the better to absorb soup)

Alternately, take a piece of pita bread, cut in half and cut open. lightly butter and season the open half-circles and toast under the broiler until lightly browned and crisped. If you use the thickened and blended version of this soup you can almost spread it on the pita.

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