I adore peas. Brian on the other hand cannot stand them. Doesn’t want to find one on the end of his fork, let alone ever taste one. This is a bit of a disappointment on my part, although the way I look at it is that I get to enjoy them all the more when he is not around.
Being that it is spring, peas are at their prime. They are super bright and sweet in flavor. I have been admiring them at the markets, but waiting for the perfect opportunity (aka: when Brian is not around) to prepare some. As luck should have it Brian had to go to away for the weekend for a business trip. Is it bad to say I was a tad excited? This means I get to have one on one time with my dogs and I also get to eat all the peas I want!
As for more perfect timing that week, I came home from work to catch the Barefoot Contessa making a Spanish Pea Soup. It was simple, straight forward, and looked luscious. I was dead set on making it. Now the Barefoot Contessa made it with chicken stock and when serving topped them with crispy pieces of ham. I may not eat meat but I knew exactly how to adapt it all. I would sub out the chicken stock for a veggie stock, and for the ham, I replace it with some crispy tempeh bacon.
So on Sunday morning I woke early to spend the day with my dogs. We headed out to the beach. The tide was out, and I let Martini and Latte off leash to roam as they please. It was a beautiful morning. We wondered up and down the beach, splashed in puddles, listened to the sea otters in a distance, and watched a few sail boats. It really was a perfect morning and a great way to start a day. Later on, once we were home, I was whipping up the soup to enjoy. As the dogs snoozed and snored - dreaming of the beach I am sure - I was enjoying the Spanish Pea Soup. It had a wonderfully bright green hue, it’s texture was velvety, and it was packed full of luscious pea flavor. The crispy tempeh bacon added a contrast and it’s smoky, savory flavor complimented to natural sweetness of the peas. I add a dab of creme fresh to it all and it is my belief that it was flawless. I know it may sound awful to some, but I am so happy Brian had to go away. I now have a great memory of my morning with my girls, and I got to enjoy a fantastic soup that I have leftovers all to myself!
Spanish Pea Soup (serves 6)
1/4 cup chopped shallots (about 2 large shallots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, or veggie stock
2 pounds peas, fresh or frozen
extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thin slices Spanish Serrano ham or tempeh bacon
Creme Fresh or Sour Cream for serving
First, place a deep heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once warmed through add the shallots and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Next, add the peas (fresh or frozen) and cover with the stock. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender until coarsely puréed. Taste it all and season it with salt and pepper if you feel it is needed.
Then, if using the ham, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the ham in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 5 to 8 minutes, until crisp. If using the tempeh, heat through a bit of olive oil in a nonstick pan and sear the bacon until crispy on each side.
Finally, when ready to serve, ladle the soup into your bowls. Lay your ham or bacon over the top and if using spoon a bit of creme fresh on top.