Pea Soup with Fresh Mint

Pea Soup with Mint Ingredients for Pea Soup with Fresh Mintimageimageimage

This soup is a staple in our home. Mint and peas are classic companions and this soup is easy to cook. You need only three ingredients: Leeks, peas (I always use frozen ones), and a bundle of fresh mint. And I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure it’s good for you—healthy and light with only a small amount of butter. This one offers a pleasingly big burst of flavor.

Sometimes for a cocktail party I will serve the soup in cups (see pictures below). This offers my guests a welcomed break from the very expected snacks (still not a doctor here, but I believe these may not be as good for you) and crudité.

Pea Soup with Fresh Mint
 
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Cook time
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Author:
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 2 standard packages of frozen petit peas
  • 3 leeks, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat melt the butter and sauté the chopped leeks until soft, right before they start to brown. Medium heat works much better than high heat, as this allows the leeks to soften slowly and develop their sugars. This step should take about 5 to 7 minutes. Season as you go with salt and pepper.
  2. Now add a quart of water and bring to a boil. Cook at a lazy bubble for 15 to 20 minutes. (This soup actually tastes better when cooked with water instead of adding chicken or vegetable stock. You will better taste the intense pea and mint flavors—a very clean flavor profile.)
  3. Now turn the heat to high and dump the peas into the pot. The frozen peas will drop the temperature in the pot dramatically. On high head, bring the soup to a boil as fast as possible. Once it’s boiling, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, and continue to season. Preserve the appealing bright green color of the soup by not overcooking. You may want to add a little more water if the soup feels too thick.
  4. The whole thing now goes into the blender. Drop a handful of mint leaves into the mix. Carefully blend until super smooth, then return to the cleaned pot. Bring to a boil one more time. This step will cook the starch out of the pulverized peas, bonding all the flavors in this super creamy delight together in the process. And make sure you notice: there’s not a single drop of cream responsible for this soup’s super creaminess.

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My favorite way to garnish the soup is with a chiffonade of mint leaves. Simply roll up a bunch of mint leaves like a cigar and slice it into very thin strips. But as you can see, this soup looks delicious even without any garnish.

You can find a similar recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, The French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Health Cooking.

Smooth Chicken Liver Pate and Sweet Pumpkin Pickles

Not everybody is a huge fan of liver dishes.  My love for them is also moderate, but these appetizers turned out to steel the show our last cocktail party.  Super easy to make they feature a wonderful silky texture and great balance of liver, Sherry and Thyme flavor.  The sweet pumpkin pickles are a recipe from my Grandma in Germany.  A classic sweet-and-sour pickle (I guess I have to blog about that one in the future).  I think any pickle you like would work.  A bit of acidity makes the pate really burst with flavor.

You need:

1 pint fresh chicken liver
1 stock of butter cubed
1/3 of a cup heavy cream
1/3 of a cup Sherry wine (Madeira or Port would also work, I like the nuttynes of the Sherry)
1 finely chopped shallots
leaves from a few sprigs of Thyme
salt and pepper

Melt half of the butter over medium heat in a sauté pan.  Sauté the the shallots with the thyme leaves until soft, avoiding browning of the shallots. Add the chicken liver and the sherry. Cook for approximately 4  to 5 minutes taking care that the center of the chicken liver stays pink.

The contents of the pan goes into the blender with the rest of the butter und cream.  Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taster.  Fill into a bowl (I strained it through a fine sieve, just to be sure) and refrigerate at least 3 hours.  The pate will be smooth and delicious.  

Toast some sour dough bread that you brushed with olive oil. Crouton, pate, sour pickle and some chopped chives and ready is this wonderful and elegant apetizer.

Last week’s New York Times inspired me to try my own chicken liver recipe.

Winter Cocktail Party with Friends

Cocktail Party: Last night I hosted a group of friends for cocktails, of course we had to prepare some snacks.  We ended up having a very good time drinking (see the sad left over above..) and eating away the Chicken Liver Pate, Soup of fresh peas with mint, spiced pecan nuts, and Parmesan Crisp with a Goat Cheese Mousse. More detail on each of the appetizers in future posts.

Hope this gives you ideas for the big Sunday Party…

Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Thank you for the kind and encouraging feedback I received over the last couple of days.  The recipe for the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup could not be easier.

You need:

1 medium-sized Butternut Squash
5 to 7 garlic gloves, peeled
pinch of red pepper flakes
a few springs of thyme, destemed

Roast everything with a few splashes of olive oil in a 350 degree oven until the edges start browning (like in the photo below)

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When done every think goes in the blender with a quart of chicken stock. I blend it until smooth.  Sometimes a bit more stock or water is required to get to the right consistency.   I put every in a pot and heat, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sometimes I feel that half a teaspoon of lemon juice helps to brighten the flavor.

For some elegance I often sprinkle the delishes Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with some herbs like parsley or chives. You also could float a parmesan crisp (wait for future posts) for a very yummy combo. But last week we had the plain soup for just a regular week night dinner.

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Jean George Vongerichten inspired me for this soup. You can find the unaltered recipe in his book ‘Simple to Spectacular’.