Chilled Fresh Pea Soup with Mint
As promised I am posting the recipes for the food we prepared for the Dîner en Blanc event in Kelowna July 4th. We chose a cold menu that was easy to transport and remained fresh and beautiful over the course of the evening. First course was a chilled fresh pea soup with mint and a drizzle of cream. I didn’t add the cream earlier because the emerald green colour of the soup was so beautiful and vibrant that I didn’t want anything to diminish the colour impact. Making this soup is as easy as boiling water so don’t hesitate to try it.
I could have transported the soup to the picnic site in a mason jar but instead brought it in a white ceramic milk bottle with a lid that kept the soup from spilling. It was in keeping with the white theme and looked pretty in the picnic setting. I brought the cream for the soup in a small version of the same bottle and it worked fine.
For 8 cups of soup I shelled three bags of peas yielding about 4 cups of the little jewels minus what I ate as I shelled them. I sautéed a leek (white and light green parts only) in unsalted butter, added the peas and a few mint leaves and then poured in about 6 cups of vegetable stock. Once the soup came to a boil I lowered the heat and allowed it to boil gently for just a few minutes before transferring it in two batches into a blender and pureeing it to a silky smooth consistency.
I serve this soup as a chilled first course and sometimes even as an appetizer in little verrines (small glass). Fresh peas are a spring and summer special treat and when in season I try to use them as often as I can.
Regarding the leeks, I learned from Jacque Pepin years ago that you do not just slice off the top of the leek above the light green portion. If you do, you risk wasting a good part of the inner leaves and in the world of restaurants that Pepin lived in this is a waste and a major no no. The way he cuts leeks is this: hold the white part in your hand and begin slicing off layer by layer of the dark green part leaving the more tender inner leaves intact. Only the tougher dark green portion of the leaves is removed. Whichever way you cut it, use only the tender parts.
1 small leek, white and light green part only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups freshly shelled peas
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Garnish: cream and small mint leaves
Cut off the dark green leaves and use only the white and light green portions. Slice the leek lengthwise and rinse well under water as sand tends to get trapped between the layers. Once you cleaned it make a few vertical cuts and then slice it horizontally into thin slices.
Melt butter in a soup pot and add the leeks and the sugar. Cook the leeks over medium heat until they begin to soften being careful not to let them brown. You can add a little of the vegetable stock if the pot seems to dry or to prevent the butter from browning.
Add the peas and mint and stir for a minute.
Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. I prefer to keep the lid off but suit yourself, being careful not to overcook the peas and lose their bright green colour.
Lower heat to a steady low boil and cook uncovered for about 8 minutes until the peas are cooked through but not too soft and still maintain a bright green colour.
Add salt to taste.
When the peas are ready remove from heat and pour into a blender in two batches making sure there is enough liquid in each batch. Cover the blender and process the peas until the soup is pureed to a silky smooth consistency.
Pour into mason jars or other containers and refrigerate until nicely chilled.
To serve pour the chilled soup into your serving vessels (cups work nicely) and serve with a drizzle of cream and a few small mint leaves for garnish.