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Monday, August 26, 2019

Chilled Pea Soup with Mint



I'm getting through these hot and humid summer days with lots of salads and chilled soups like this one, inspired by a recent trip to France. Whenever I'm in Toulouse, I love eating lunch at the Victor Hugo market, famous for its fresh produce and local products. Above the market, on the second floor, are five restaurants turning these best quality ingredients into delicious food. I had previously enjoyed a good Salade Landaise and was hoping to do it again, but we arrived at the end of the lunch service and there were only two options left for our first course. So, unexpectedly, I found myself eating a chilled pea soup with mint on a hot summer day in the south of France. I was delightfully surprised and this is my effort to re-create it.

If you don't have crème fraîche and don't want to make your own, you can substitute whole milk yogurt (Greek or regular) or sour cream. For a dairy-free version, substitute vegetable broth or raw cashews for crème fraîche and extra virgin olive oil for butter. I make this in my Vitamix but you can use any blender.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 half small onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound best-quality shelled peas, fresh of frozen and thawed
  • 3 sprigs mint, leaves separated and stems discarded
  • 4 to 6 basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche 
  • Sea salt
  • White pepper
  • Splash water

Method:
  1. Melt the butter in a small skillet and saute the onion over medium-low heat until very soft and starting to turn brown. Set aside to cool.
  2. Reserve some mint leaves for garnish. Add about half of the remaining leaves to a blender along with the cooled onions, peas, crème fraîche, salt, and pepper.  Add a good splash of water and blend until smooth, adding more water as necessary for the desired consistency. 
  3. Taste the soup for seasoning and make any adjustments. Transfer the soup to an airtight container in the fridge and chills for several hours.
  4. When ready to eat, ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with mint leaves. Other beautiful garnishes: edible flowers, dots of red pepper puree, thin slices of cherry tomatoes, drizzle of good olive oil (plain or blended with herbs).

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