This time of year I find myself making soup at least a couple of times a month. Nothing better to chase away the winter blues – plus if you stay away from the cream, you get a filling meal that is pretty healthy. An added bonus is my toddler gets a kick out of sucking down soup with a straw – which means I generally tend to stick to vegetable purees. Inspiration for this soup came from Ina Garten’s new cookbook Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. My dear sister sent me a copy since she knows Garten is one of my favorite cookbook authors. Her recipes are generally pretty unfussy but are always greater than the sum of their parts. A pea soup recipe caught my eye immediately in the starter chapter.
With only six ingredients and a short cooking time it appealed to my very pregnant self immensely. Reading through the recipe I was reminded of a pea dish that my mother used to make pretty often while I was growing up. It was a simple saute of peas and onions that had a tangy fresh flavor. I used to adore this dish and thought why not transfer the spice profile to this soup. After a quick phone call to Mom, I added aamchur, red chili flakes, and ground coriander to my ingredients. Ina Garten’s original recipe called for a topping of crisped ham but I wanted to keep playing with different kinds of sour flavors. I added some crumbled feta and grated lemon zest to my finished soup to introduce creamy and sharp sourness. It was a hit with both the men in my household – and best of all took about 30 minutes to make. I served simply with fresh bread and good butter but it would work nicely as a starter to fancier meal as well.
- 2 tbl olive oil
- 1/2 c. chopped shallots
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 lbs frozen peas
- 2 tsp salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 tbl aamchur*
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 cup crumbled feta – I like Bulgarian or French
- freshly grated zest of 1 lemon
1. In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, aamchur, red chili flakes, and coriander and saute for about a minute.
3. Add the chicken stock, frozen peas, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 tsp pepper and bring to a boil.
4. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
5. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or transfer to a traditional blender.
6. Taste for salt – depending on your stock you may need more.
7. Ladle into bowls and garnish with feta and lemon zest.
* Aamchur is dried mango powder and has a distinctive sour taste. Look for it at your favorite Indian store.