Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ultra-Refined Mint Pea Soup

Nothing says pure class like chilled pea soup. Proof:

This soup is "refined" in both senses of the word. It's quite upscale, adapted closely from the pea soup at the French restaurant where Aaron used to work. But more important, it's distilled to the purest possible flavor and texture—the essence of peas and mint in a velvet-smooth, English-countryside-green, creamy-yet-creamless purée.

This is not a 30-minute meal. You can't get a soup like this without some chef-y labor: blanching the different types of peas separately, making a light stock from the pea pods and trimmings, blending the soup in batches, and passing the purée through a fine mesh strainer until the consistency is just so.

You might be skeptical at first—really, four kinds of peas, all those steps, and romaine lettuce?—but you'll get it as soon as you taste the finished product. There's no shortcut to a soup like this.

Ultra-Refined Mint Pea Soup

Cooking Time

~3 hours (1 hour active)

This recipe makes a lot, but everybody likes pea soup.

Chef's knife
Cutting board
Paring knife
Prep bowls
2 large pots
Large bowl and strainer for ice bath
Paper towels
Small saucepan or skillet for browning butter
Fine mesh strainer

1 1/2 lbs. unshelled English peas, rinsed and dried
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas, rinsed and dried
1/2 lb. snow peas, rinsed and dried
1 shallot, peeled and quartered
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
12 cups cool water
4 heaping tablespoons kosher or sea salt, plus more to taste
2 lbs. frozen peas
3 leaves romaine lettuce, rinsed and dried
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large sprigs mint, rinsed, dried, and picked from stems

1. Shell English peas into a bowl. Reserve pods. Using a paring knife, trim sugar snap peas and snow peas by removing their woody tips and pulling away the tough fibers that run down their sides. Reserve trimmings. Keep sugar snap peas and snow peas in separate bowls.

2. In a large pot, cover pods, trimmings, shallot, thyme, peppercorns, and coriander seed with 12 cups cool water. Bring to a gentle simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes to make a stock. Strain and discard solids. Set stock aside in a pot over very low heat if it's done before you're ready to purée the soup.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 4 heaping tablespoons salt. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl with a strainer set inside it.

4. Time to blanch and shock! Cook English peas, sugar snap peas, snow peas, frozen peas (1 pound at a time), and romaine separately in boiling water until tender but not mushy (taste to check), about 2 1/2 minutes for English peas, 3 minutes for sugar snap peas, 3 minutes for snow peas, 3 minutes for each pound of frozen peas, and 1 1/2 minutes for romaine. As soon as each batch is cooked, remove from boiling water with a strainer, submerge in ice bath until cool, and drain over paper towels.

5. Melt butter in saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer until it turns light brown and smells very nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat immediately to prevent burning.

6. Purée blanched vegetables, hot stock, brown butter, and mint in a blender until smooth and emulsified (the top of the purée will be a little foamy when it's done). Work in batches—probably three or four, depending on the size of your blender—to make sure the soup blends properly. 

7. Once a batch is blended, pass through a fine mesh strainer with a ladle and discard solids. Taste as you go, adding more salt if necessary. (It's much harder to adjust the seasoning at the end, when you'll have over a gallon of liquid to deal with.) As far as texture, you want a consistency similar to that of heavy cream; keep the thickness in mind when deciding how much stock to add to the blender for each batch.

8. Refrigerate soup until cold (at least 2 hours).

9. Serve in chilled bowls, garnished with a little mint and drizzled lightly with olive oil. Feel proud that nobody is eating a more high-class pea soup than you are, unless they've added lobster or something.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome work.Just wanted to drop a comment and say I am new to your blog and really like what I am reading.Thanks for the share