Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Spinach and Pea Soup

Lately I've really been embracing the idea of warm weather soups. Gazpacho is probably the most obvious summer choice, but I've been more interested in cooked soups before the weather is too oppressive. In the dog days of summer I'm sure to revisit the gazpacho issue, but for now I'm loving these vegetable-packed soups that can be served cold, room temperature or warm. Each bowl is a concentrated expression of the fresh flavor of the season and a great way to pack a lot of nutrition into a small package. The short list of ingredients might make this recipe seem too simple, but the bounty of the farmers' market packs each bite with terroir and sunshine. Lemon juice adds an often neglected acidic element that brightens the entire soup and brings out nuanced flavor that would otherwise just be blended into general green goodness. This verdant soup becomes a complete meal with a side salad and piece of crusty bread or sandwich; I really loved it with the guacamole toast shown above. Like so many of the recipes I make, leftovers can happily be frozen for a taste of this agricultural moment at the ready anytime.

Spinach and Pea Soup
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4 (as a side)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 3/4 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 pound fresh English peas, shelled (about 1 cup)
8 ounces spinach (curly or flat leaf), tough stems discarded (about 6 cups packed leaves)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add stock, and bring to a boil.

2. Add peas, and return to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender and bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in spinach. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach has wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat and puree pea mixture using an immersion blender. Stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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