ffwd: cheating-on-winter pea soup
People complain about the weather this time of year, but, I actually like winter. Sure, it’s cold, and inclement weather can put a wrinkle in your plans. However, it is winter, it is supposed to be cold and, here in New England, it is supposed to snow. No surprises there. I strongly believe you shouldn’t complain about things completely out of your control, like the weather.
On the positive side, there’s nothing like a bright, sunny winter day with the ground covered with snow, like today. I have a dog whose favorite thing in life is to walk. We walk outside for at least an hour everyday, no matter what the weather. She has a fur coat, but I bundle up (an excuse to exercise the variety of handmade hats and scarves I’ve made). We’re both quite comfortable. The recent snowfall has deterred us, but we often walk in nearby woods, enjoying the birds, trying to identify other critters’ footprints, and, generally, just enjoying being in the fresh air.
Another positive thing about winter: homemade baked goods and hearty soups and stews all feel right this time of year. And most importantly, no excuse is needed to enjoy a mug of steaming hot chocolate.
That said, I’ll be happy when spring arrives next month. I’ve already noticed it’s not quite so dark in the morning (at least until Daylight Savings Time starts), and it’s staying light later in the day. Another snowstorm is expected this weekend, so it’s definitely not over yet, but Winter is starting to get ready to hand things over to Spring.
This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie Cheating-On-Winter Pea Soup is a perfect warm up for the upcoming transition.
Dorie says this soup is a liquid version of a classic French salad of lettuce, peas, and onions. Certainly, this soup couldn’t have been easier to make. An onion is sautéed in butter. Liquid is added (I used homemade vegetable stock because I’d just made some, but you could use chicken broth or even just water). Then, frozen peas and sliced romaine lettuce are added and simmered before pureeing in the blender.
Based on recommendations about this recipe from other Doristas, I used less liquid than the recipe called for (4 cups instead of the called for 6). This made a thicker soup, but otherwise, I think it would have been too thin for my taste. I pureed it in the blender because I find that makes the smoothest soup. Initially, I strained the first batch out of the blender, but too much body was caught in the strainer, so I added it all back in for a smooth, but not silky, soup. I found it was the lettuce that didn’t completely liquefy, rather than pea skins.
The soup starts out a brilliant shade of verdant green, though it faded to a slightly more olive shade overnight in the refrigerator. This simple soup is fine as is, or you could dress it up a bit. Over the past month, I’ve been experimenting with making my own chèvre, so I topped my bowl with a scoop of fresh goat cheese along with some crumbled bacon. The cheese sank, so you can’t really see it in the picture, but it tasted good with the soup.
The soup was a team effort. Howard cooked the bacon we used for garnish. This was the only recipe this month that got his seal of approval. Hooray!
If you’d like to try this yourself (and I recommend you do), I found the recipe for a half-batch here on Epicurious. I’m happy to see that the lettuce amount in this version of the recipe is more precise. I mean, how big is a medium head of romaine anyway? Mine seemed rather large, but never having made this soup before, I wasn’t sure how to judge how much of it to use in the soup. The Epicurious recipe says 4 cups (for half a medium head), so I’ll make a note of that quantity in my book for next time.
To see what other Doristas thought of this recipe, check out their posts here.