This soup makes use of spring garden ingredients: peas, lettuce, spring onions and tarragon. If you have ever grown peas you know shelling peas is a pain. It’s a whole lot of work for very little reward. Apparently, I am not learning my lesson from the previous experiences, because I rush out and plant them every spring. They fix nitrogen in the soil, so it’s really a soil building exercise that has a byproduct. I also can’t convince myself to waste perfectly good peas just because shelling is a pain.
The great thing about this soup is you can use a big family size bag of frozen peas. That means no shelling is involved and you can eat it no matter what season you are in! (Don’t worry, this is not split pea soup which is made from dried winter legumes. It is completely different, fresh and incredibly enjoyable!)
One of the things that originally piqued my interest in this soup is that it uses lettuce. I have never cooked with lettuce in any other dish. If you are well into your spring and you are getting tired of your daily salad but don’t know what else to do with your lettuce: this is a great use for it! In fact, you can make this soup and freeze it and eat it later. It’s also quick. That means there is absolutely no reason to let any of your spring lettuce go to waste!
Spring Soup (Adapted from Spring Pea Soup from Better Homes and Gardens. I have played with it for years and it’s still in our weekly rotation.)
If you are looking for the “wow” factor, you can reserve some cheese, peas and tarragon for garnish.
However you choose to go: it is still extremely filling. Thanks to the protein and fiber in the peas, and the fats in the milk and cheese: this is not a soup you that will leave you hungry again after you are done. Believe it or not: I lost weight, and so did hubby, when we were eating this and I was only cooking soups.
- Add peas and broth to an 8 quart lidded pot. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook for 6 minutes covered. Add half of your lettuce and replace the lid, raise to a boil and let it steam a little. Uncover and stir the peas and broth up over the top of the lettuce until it wilts. Add remaining lettuce (Yes, it will fit!) and spring onions (or scallions). Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 4 to 6 minutes more or until peas and onions are tender. Stir in tarragon.
- Use a stick blender straight in the pot and blend until fairly smooth. If you don’t have a stick blender you can attempt to slowly ladle this back and forth into a blender or food processor but I really recommend the stick blender. Stir in your choice of milk/cream or half and half until you have thinned it enough that it is to your liking. Make sure you heat the milk/cream through. Add salt to taste.
- Top each serving with feta, freshly cracked pepper and add prosciutto, if you are using it. Add a tarragon sprig for garnish. Place bread to the side of the bowl (you can toast it if you have the inclination.) Do not add it to the soup before serving or it will be a mushy mess. (This plates nicely enough to serve to guests that you are trying to impress.)
- Cool the rest, and bag it in a ziplock freezer bag, and freeze for later. I recommend freezing it in amounts that you will consume it.
- Makes approximately 12-13 cups
On a side note:
Do not buy fresh peas. Just finding them would be hard and buying them fresh would make this an expensive soup. If you haven’t spent your day shelling your own (and have the obligatory painful hands from the process!) then the very next best is frozen. Anything you can get frozen in the US is going to be fresher than what you are buying in the produce section. Frozen vegetables are in a condition pretty close to what you’d get in the field.
Let me know what you think. This really is a 5 star soup. You could serve it to your in-laws or even your boss and their family and they’d be completely impressed with your cooking skills! It would be even more impressive if you could mention that you grew some of the ingredients yourself!!!! Enjoy your spring and happy eating!