Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spring is in the air... at least somewhere

While the temperature is approaching triple digits out here, I recently had the chance to wander around Central Park with Emmanuelle in all its Spring-glory. The tulips and daffodils were in full bloom, robins were hopping around: it was like we were in a Disney movie. So, in honor of a season that still exists on the East Coast, a recipe for pea soup.

Fresh Pea Soup (from A Beautiful Bowl of Soup by Paulette Mitchell, a birthday gift from Emmanuelle)

2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 leek (white part only), halved lengthwise, rinsed, and cut into 1/8 inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 16 oz bag frozen baby peas
2 carrots, cut into 1/8 slices
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons sugar
dash of freshly grated nutmeg (freshly grated is worth it)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, leek, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vegetable stock and peas. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, steam carrots in a covered steamer over boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes. Puree the pea mixture and the milk with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in carrots, sugar, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir gently over medium heat until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Possible toppings: Parmesan cream (1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 1/4 tsp pepper), just Parmesan, mozzarella and basil (this one is very nice), herb croutons, or (and this was one of my favorites) crumbled pecans.

This is a delicious, light soup. It is easy to make and the color is simply stunning. And, it looked especially splendid in my orange Dutch Oven. Get ready for something beautiful...

Speaking of Dutch Ovens, Emmanuelle can weigh in on this point, but I think a Dutch Oven is an absolutely crucial item of equipment for any kitchen. We did a lot of research this Christmas on Dutch Ovens. She has a red Lodge, which I hear she loves, and I was able to find an orange Le Creuset at Marshalls for an unbelievable discount. I find especially for soups and sauteeing, nothing beats the Dutch Oven. And, oh my, aren't they pretty?

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