Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pea and Parsley Soup

Tangent: (I think I'd call it a tangent anyway, though it raises the question: can a tangent come before anything else? (I think it can in this case because by definition it is merely "a sudden diversion or change of course" and I am diverting and changing course from at the v. least the title of my post.) More importantly, is it grammatically appropriate, albeit slightly deficient as far as style-and-form are concerned, to have two colons in what looks like one sentence? But back to my tangent, which I feel is appropriate to throw in here, even though it doesn't relate to the actual recipe you'll find if you skip all this mumbo-jumbo and scroll down a ways, because it relates to food and this is my food blog.) I am baking bread right now and I am terribly nervous about how it will turn out. It's my first go at a less-than-absolutely-terrifyingly-and-yet-also-comfortingly-reliably-perfectly-precise bread recipe. It's from this little gem, a Christmas present I got for my husband, the certified perfectionist breadbaker in the household. The point of the book is to sort of debunk the myths associated with artisan bread baking, make it more casual and less labor intensive. I thought it would be a good complement to MC's other resources, which are wonderful but rigid. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is, frankly, more my style than the Peter Reinhart books, and what kind of wife would I be if I weren't constantly attempting to make my husband a little more like me? But anyway. Here's the deal: this book is stressing me out! I've gotten quite used to measuring with a scale rather than cups and spoons, and relying on internal temperatures rather than vague, arguably subjective descriptions (e.g. "nicely browned and firm") to test for doneness. Moreover, the room for error intrinsic in the lax character of the recipes has been quadrupled by the fact that I cannot leave well enough (vague enough?) alone. I went ahead and decided that a 1.5 pound loaf was too big, so I made a 1 pound loaf instead, and now I'm trying to shape and adjust baking time to accommodate my recklessness and, well, I suspect disaster on the horizon. Or a hard, dense, flavorless excuse for a loaf of bread anyway.

The silver lining: this is a learning experience. I don't learn the way my husband does. To get better at something, I usually have to royally eff up first.

So about that soup!

peas and parsley

Look, it has peas and parsley in it!

Which brings me to a disclaimer before I even get to the recipe: nothing about this soup is going to knock your socks off. This soup is not like my seed burgers or pumpkin mac & cheese or even that damn good chili I mentioned last week, foods that end up so remarkably and unexpectedly greater than the sum of their parts that you are blown away with every bite. Here, with every, um, slurp, you taste merely the freshness and healthfulness and greenness of the ingredients - ingredients which are combined nicely and which prove refreshing even in the coldest part of winter (here's hoping). It is a soothing, nourishing, seemingly detoxifying soup - something that you might like after the holidays or after your birthday dinner at your favorite restaurant where you perhaps inhaled, in the span of ninety minutes: a bowl of green olives; fresh French bread with butter, ricotta, and chestnut honey; a heavily dressed, heavily salted duck and radicchio salad (BEST. THING. EVER.); housemade stringozzi with lamb; a sweet-and-sour duck banh-mi sandwich; a brie-topped burger; french fries; and a quince tarte tatin with salted caramel ice cream. Or maybe that was me, not you. Don't judge me. I don't get out much. And MC and I split everything. Even going splitsies, though, homemade Pea and Parsley Soup really hit the spot in the days following our decadent night out. Maybe it sounds good to you too. Maybe you ate too many cookies in December.


Before I stop rambling and get to the recipe, I just want to make a note about the vegetable broth I used. More specifically, I want to recommend it to you. I know nothing about the company and its practices - maybe it's owned by Kraft or something, in which case I'll be a little embarrassed about my recommendation - but, seriously, this broth is so good. Because it has WINE in it. And lemon juice. So if you are using water or a more traditional broth than the one I used, feel free to up the amount of lemon juice you use. (And a little wine probably won't hurt either.)

The recipe is more inspired by than adapted from a recipe called "Cheating-in-winter Pea Soup", from one of my new cookbooks - we acquired eight new cookbooks between Christmas and my birthday, two of which are not featured in the photo - specifically, Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. It's popular among the food bloggers, and this dinky (but lovely!) soup recipe is no reflection of the bulk of the book, which is beautifully photographed and includes fancy, luscious recipes for things like coddled eggs with foie gras; chicken, apples, and cream a la normande; and "cafe salle pleyel hamburger", which would probably go great with some pea and parsley soup if you're out of french fries and beer. You will most certainly be hearing more about Ms. Greenspan's influence on my cooking throughout the remainder of the year. I just have to figure out where to start.

soup in progress

Pea and Parsley Soup
Yield: 6 servings
Inspired by Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table

1 tablespoon olive oil
Half an onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4-6 cups water, vegetable broth, or chicken broth*
1 pound frozen peas, rinsed
1 large bunch of curly parsley, rinsed well and chopped in half lengthwise
Zest and juice of one lemon

To serve: crumbled feta cheese, homemade croutons, and a drizzle of good olive oil; for a thicker, heartier soup, add some cooked bulgur or rice after you've blended the soup.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and stir for about 3-5 minutes. Pour in the broth or water and bring to a boil. Stir in the peas, parsley, and lemon zest. Bring to boil again and then lower the heat and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Using an immersion blender or working in batches using a regular blender, puree the soup until it's as smooth as you'd like. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve while still hot.

* Six cups of liquid makes for a v. brothy soup. If you are like me and like something a little thicker, start with 4 cups of liquid and add more as you see fit.


  1. I so wanted Around My French Table for Christmas but the only person I told that to was myself. Thus, I did not receive it. Thank heavens for January birthdays or as I have always liked to call it, 2nd Christmas.

    I am excited to see more recipes from said cookbook.

  2. Made the soup - just delish. I'm going to try 'value' peas next time.