This is one of those situations where the phrase "you can't judge a book by its cover" definitely applies. I tried--boy did I try--to make this soup look as tempting and appetizing as a buttercream-topped cupcake, but in the end I just gave up. I mean, these are peas that we're dealing with after all. Pureed peas for that matter. I doubt that even Patrick Demarchelier, despite his photographic prowess, would be able to accomplish such a task. Certain recipes just don't lend themselves to cover-of-the-cookbook photos, and pea soup is one of them.
That being said, you're just going to have to trust me when I tell you that what this soup lacks in beauty, it 100% makes up for in healthy springtime deliciousness. As the weather warms up, many people file their soup recipes as "un-usable" until late September. That mindset doesn't work for me--I am a soup fanatic, and I always have at least one kind of homemade soup hanging out in the fridge. Soup is filling, healthy, and it's the perfect light supper. Preparing soup is also a great way to use up leftover vegetables and herbs. Seeing as I live in the middle of the desert, where summertime temps reach 115 (and remain there for what seems like and eternity), I love to create soups that can be served hot or cold. Although I make a mean gazpacho, I'm trying to expand my selection of spring and summer soups (say that ten times fast). This was my first attempt at pea soup, and I have to say, I'm pretty darn pleased with myself.
I really would have loved to use fresh peas for this recipe, as I know that they would have taken this soup to the next level, but that's simply not an option here (don't get me started on another one of my Las Vegas produce selection rants.) If you have the luxury of fresh spring peas, I hate you by all means, use them. I have always loved sweet peas, but I have never tried them as a soup. In my version, they are paired with a variety of herbs, sauteed onions, and a splash of white wine. This recipe is low in both fat and calories, but the flavors are so satisfying that you won't feel deprived. This is the perfect soup to mop up with some fresh artisanal bread. After just one bite, this ugly ducking definitely turns into a swan! Here are a few extra tips for making this healthy herb-alicious soup:
- If you do not have an immersion blender, you can puree the soup by transferring it in batches to a regular blender. I bought my immersion blender about 6 years ago for less than $20, and it is still going strong. It makes my life so much easier when it comes to pureeing soups, sauces, and dressings, so I definitely recommend adding one to your kitchen equipment!
- I just opted for using dried herbs in this recipe, as that is what I happened to have in supply. Feel free to improvise with fresh herbs too, about 3 tablespoons total. Fresh tarragon, thyme,flat-leaf parsley, mint, or rosemary would all make excellent additions.
- Herbes de Provence is one of my favorite ingredients to add to a recipe--it's like getting 4 or 5 ingredients for the price of 1. Although the herb combinations can vary, my jar is a mixture of fennel, lavender, thyme, and basil. In the regular grocery store, Herbes de Provence can be expensive, but find it in a warehouse club or restaurant supply store, and it is MUCH cheaper!
- This soup is wonderful served cold or hot.
- If you want to make this vegetarian, just substitute vegetable stock for chicken broth.
Herbed Spring Pea Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups sliced sweet onions (such as Vidalia)
4 cloves garlic, minces
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup dry white wine
32 ounces frozen petite peas
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Plain yogurt, optional
In large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the Herbes de Provence, salt, thyme, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Continue to saute the mixture until the onions are golden, about 5 minutes more.
Add the wine to the sauce pan, and allow it to reduce and evaporate, stirring occasionally. Add the peas and the chicken broth to the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 7 minutes, until the peas are tender.
Using and immersion blender, puree the mixture until it is completely smooth. Return the mixture to a simmer, and thin it with additional broth if desired. Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with a dollop of yogurt, if desired.