The CC is finding abundant fresh shelled peas at his local farmers' market these days. The season is coming to a close and this luxury will soon go away.
Experienced cooks know not to throw away the shells of the peas. We've talked about pea-broth risotto on this blog before but there's something else that works like magic.
The peas tend to be starchier later in the summer and this recipe works perfectly with them. It's involves using the pea-broth to make a chilled soup which goes down easy in this absurd summer heat.
The recipe is a little laborious since it involves making the pea-broth and then making a soup based on it but it's easier than it sounds. You just need some pots and a dishwasher (either mechanical or of the human kind!)
The ideal accompaniment to this as a light summer meal is parmesan toast.
1 lb organic pea shells (yes, they need to be organic!)
1 large onion
6 cups water
pea broth (from above)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup peas
3-4 cups basil
Notes 1: You need a lot of basil because flavors are muted with cold soups. Same goes for salt and pepper.
Notes 2: When the soup cools, it will separate out. Just whip it again with a whisk before serving.
Notes 3: Do NOT use cream as you see in a lot of online recipes. Yes, there is a place for cream in the soup world but it has a tendency to flatten out the recipes and make all soups taste the same. This is all about the pure taste of summer peas!
First, make the pea broth. Fry the onions in the olive oil till they are limp. Add the shells and fry them for a bit. Add the water, salt and pepper and let cook for at least 30 minutes until the pea shells are limp. Blend with a stick blender. The shells are fibrous and will never blend completely.
Filter the broth using a strainer pressing down to extract the maximum amount of the broth. Toss the fibrous residue.
In a separate clean pot, heat up some butter. Fry the shallots on a medium-low heat. Add the pea broth and bring to a boil. Add the peas and let them cook for about 10-12 minutes until soft. Turn off the heat.
Add the basil and blend the mixture together until it is very smooth. Check for salt and and some if necessary. You can strain the soup if you want a finer presentation or just leave it as is for a slightly more rustic version.
Chill the soup. It will take at least 6-7 hours before it is nicely cold. Serve.