Friday, April 8, 2011

Fresh spring pea soup and lamb chops recently made for a perfect spring meal.

I couldn’t resist the fresh peas stacked in piles at the pazar the other day. Even though I knew, I’d be spending at least a half hour to shell the peas again, I figured the fresh taste was worth the effort.

Fresh peas are one of the highlights of spring. If you don’t snap them up now, you’ll have to wait until they arrive again next year.

Last week, I attended a French cooking class at another expat’s home here in Istanbul. It was a fun-filled, belly-aching day. Every recipe contained butter or cream as only a real French recipe should! One of the recipes we learned was veloute’ de petis pois or in other words cream of pea soup.

The recipe is simple and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare, if you don’t count the time it takes to shell the peas. I did end up using about one-third frozen peas because I didn’t yield enough fresh peas from the pods.

Serve the soup as a first course with an evening meal this spring. It’s sure to be a delight! For the entree, I served spiced, pan-grilled lamb chops with basmati rice.

Afiyet olsun!

Spring Pea Soup
Adapted recipe from French friends Laure and Patricia
(yields: about 1 quart)

500 g. (17.6 oz.) fresh green peas (you can substitute frozen peas with good results)
325 ml. (11 oz.) whole milk
125 ml. (4.23 oz.) heavy cream or krema
10+ fresh mint leaves
TT salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Garnish: chiffonade of mint leaves/grapefruit segments

1. In a medium-sized pot, bring the milk and cream to a boil. Add the mint leaves. (I used a bit more mint so the soup had a more minty flavor.) Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
2. Remove the pot off the heat and cover with a lid. Let steep for at least 10 minutes.
3. Then add the peas and rewarm the mixture for a few minutes.
4. Using an immersion hand blender, carefully puree the soup in the pot. I placed the pot in my kitchen sink because the soup tends to splatter quite a bit while you’re trying to blend it. Alternatively, use a blender.
5. Adjust seasonings as needed.
6. Serve in Turkish çay glasses as a starter course for a meal.

Tip: If you reheat the soup later, you will need to add a little more milk or cream to thin the soup out a little bit. Also, do not use too high of a temperature to reheat the soup because you can scald it.

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