To be a food blogger of any consequence, one must at some point make a claim for having a dish that "tastes like summer!" Such a dish inevitable relies heavily on seasonal produce, sometimes fresh herbs, and almost always lemon. I'm not without my own sentimental streak about such things. When I decided to make pea soup, I consciously wanted to create something that would taste like sunshine and leisurely afternoons, though I have had neither of these for a while. And c'mon! Pea soup should at least make the short list for foods that can be justifiably described synaesthesiastically (new word!) as "summer." What I came up with actually tasted more wintery to me, perhaps due to my heavy-handed use of pepper. I didn't mess up, dear readers, I've just really been feeling the peppercorns lately. I also decided to leave half the peas whole, which is a bit unconventional in a blended vegetable soup. The extra texture was welcome, particularly after C proclaimed his (hitherto unknown) disinclination for smooth soups. I can kind of see where he's coming from. I think the critical factor in smooth soups, aside from flavoring (duh) is consistency. Too thin, and they're unpleasantly watery. Too thick, and, well, "blorf" is the word that comes to mind. "Babyfood" is another.
I'm sure I will play with this soup more with time, but this recipe is a good baseline. I really like the lemony peas laced with the smokey zing of pureed peppercorn. I wouldn't call it the "ultimate" or even "penultimate" soup of summer, but it fits neatly into the sort of gloomy, lingering Spring we've been enjoying in Northern California. Consider making this on a chillier-than-usual summer day, or a warmer-than-usual day in winter. I love a good contradiction.
Lemon Peppery Pea Soup
2 (16 oz) bags frozen peas (I know fresh would have been better, but they tend to be a) more expensive, and b) more work than I could handle on this particular day. By all means, use fresh.)
1 small Vidalia onion, diced
1-3 t whole black peppercorns (depending on your tolerance of/love for pepper)
3 c water
1 cube broth
2 T dried dill
1 T dried basil
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
juice from one lemon
salt to taste
In a medium saucepan, saute onion in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Add one bag of peas, herbs, and peppercorns and cook for 5 minutes. Don't let it stick!. Dump the peas/onion/pepper mixture into a blender or food processor. Add 2 cups of the water and blend until smooth. Return to pan. Add final cup of water and remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, adjusting seasonings as necessary. If you're one of those people who can't abide a pureed soup without a swirl of some kind of dairy analog, by all means add a dollop of soy yogurt or sour cream before serving.