Spring in a bowl

Posted by Anita on 04.09.07 6:07 PM

Green Soup (c)2007 AEC **All Rights Reserved**The gorgeous soup we served for Easter-eve supper — as a first course before a tried-and-true potato gratin and a succulent Fatted Calf Petit Jamon — is an old Soup of the Fortnight favorite. But last time I wrote about it, I only linked to the original recipe (which serves 16+!) and didn’t include a photo. As you can see, it’s a soup that looks much more elegant in the bowl than it sounds from a simple reading.

The recipe made its debut a year ago in Seattle, at a dinner organized by a group of MouthfulsFood friends to celebrate the start of spring. We weren’t able to make it to that dinner, but the recipe sounded so amazing, I couldn’t wait to try it. I whipped up a batch for a dinner party a few days later, including the chive oil and the lemon creme fraiche — touches I probably wouldn’t have bothered with for an everyday meal. But, as I learned, it would not be wise to skip them: Unlike many garnishes, they’re the crowning glory of this soup, elemental pieces whose presence would be sorely missed in the end result.

Jan’s Spring-Green Soup
– serves 6 as a first course

3 cups good quality chicken stock
1 to 2 oz. bacon strips
1T unsalted butter
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, trimmed well of strings, chopped
2 stalks green garlic or 1 medium leek, washed well (tender parts only), chopped
1 T chopped Italian parsley
2 T dry vermouth
4 oz. fresh sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half
1 small head butter lettuce (aka Boston or Bibb lettuce), rinsed well and chopped
3 cups frozen petit pois, thawed (such as C&W Early Harvest Spring Peas)
1 long sprig of fresh rosemary
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream

Put chicken stock in a large saucepan or small stockpot (at least 4-quart capacity) and bring to a boil. Prepare an ice bath under a large, metal bowl.

Meanwhile, sauté the bacon in a large sauté pan until browned and fat is rendered. Remove strips and put them in the stockpot with the stock. Pour out all but about 1T fat from sauté pan, add 1T butter. Add onions, celery, leeks and rosemary sprig to pan. Stir to combine, add a pinch or two of salt, and sweat for 10 to 15 minutes, being careful not to brown vegetables. Add more pork fat if needed. When soft, add parsley, deglaze the pan with vermouth, and reduce the vermouth briefly. Add these ingredients to the stock.

Bring the stock back to a boil; add the sugar snap peas and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the lettuce, bring back to the boil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peas, bring back to the boil, and cook until everything is just tender. The lettuce gets dark and slimy, but don’t fear: All will be well. The peas should still be quite bright green …don’t overcook or it will all turn grey.

When all vegetables are tender, immediately pour the soup into the large bowl over an ice bath and stir to cool. This will keep it from overcooking and darkening. When cooled to room temp, remove rosemary sprig and bacon strips.

Puree the soup with a stick blender (or, using in a traditional blender, in batches) and strain the puree into another pot or bowl. You’ll need to work for a while with a rubber spatula to push the soup out and leave the solids behind. This is one time where pressing hard and stirring around is not just fine but required: You want just the fibers left behind. If you leave too much vegetable matter in the strainer, your soup will be thin, and you won’t have enough to make six servings.

(The soup can be refrigerated at this point for a day or two.)

To serve cold:
Add cream as desired, being careful not to overwhelm the fresh, green flavor. Start with 2T of cream; taste. Adjust seasoning with salt, white pepper, and small amounts of lemon juice.

To serve warm:
Heat soup over medium-low. Add cream as desired, being careful not to overwhelm the fresh, green flavor. Add cream as desired, starting with 1/4 cup; taste. Adjust seasoning with salt, white pepper, and small amounts of lemon juice.

To finish:
Ladle into bowls and add swirls (or a dollop) of lemon crème fraiche and droplets of chive oil. Garnish with an edible flower, if desired.


Lemon Crème Fraiche
1/2 cup crème fraiche
Zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
Lemon juice to taste
Fresh ground pepper

Stir up crème fraiche with drops of lemon juice and some of the zest, starting with about 1 tsp. Add a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Taste and adjust amount of lemon juice/zest to taste. If you need to thin more, but don’t want to add more lemon juice, use milk. Put into squeeze bottle or drop by the spoonful into soup.

Chive Oil
1/2 cup oil, preferably mild olive oil
1 bunches chives, cut into thirds (divided use)
Salt to taste

Blanched one third of the chives for 10 seconds and shock in an ice-water bath. Puree the blanched and raw chives in a small blender container with the oil and the salt. Taste for salt, and add more oil if the salt or chive flavor is too strong. Let the puree sit for several hours. Strain twice to remove solids.

holidays & occasions, recipes, Soup o' the Fortnight



Comment by Jan

So glad you’ve enjoyed this soup. Your presentation is beautiful, love the flower. It’s also good with guanciale or pancetta in place of the bacon. I really need to make this again. Oh, and thanks to you, now I have a reduced quantity version that actually makes sense for home-sized portions!

Posted on 04.09.07 at 6:34PM

Comment by cookiecrumb

I can’t believe my eyes. This is definitely a recipe that needs to run with a photo. It’s stunning.

Posted on 04.10.07 at 9:16AM

Comment by Lucy Vanel

That soup looks and sounds excellent.

Posted on 04.10.07 at 10:23PM

Comment by Jennifer Hess

Absolutely gorgeous.

Posted on 04.12.07 at 8:08AM

Comment by bea at La tartine gourmande

Delicious looking soup. I am a big pea soup fan! ;-)

Posted on 04.12.07 at 10:31AM

Comment by Helen

This is exactly what I like to eat during spring and summer al fresco dinners. Stunning color!

Posted on 04.12.07 at 12:50PM

Comment by Anita

Jan: Thank YOU for sharing the recipe with us. I’m so glad that your visit reminded me of this soup!

Cookie: Thank you, my dear. I’ll try to whip up something equally gorgeous when you come for supper.

Lucy, Jen, Bea, and Helen: Wow, I can’t believe four of my favorite food photographers all stopped by? I’m supremely flattered by your praise. :D

Posted on 04.12.07 at 10:16PM

Pingback by Slashfood

[...]DMBLGiT: May Winners… Anita of Married …with dinner shared first place honors with her beautiful submission of Spring-Green Soup (pictured, right) which includes a fresh dollop of lemon crème fraiche and droplets of chive oil. She finished her presentation with an edible flower, which compliments the soup beautifully. [...]

Posted on 06.11.07 at 4:18AM

Pingback by DMBLGiT: The Winners! from RealEpicurean.com

[...]In joint first position is the excellent ‘Spring in A Bowl’ taken by Anita from Married With Dinner. This photograph also scored joint highest for Aesthetics, above the category winner. [...]

Posted on 06.06.07 at 12:26PM

Comment by Stephen Foster

Good grief! I got back from Farmer’s market with an unexpected 5lb of fresh-picked English peapods (and a couple of serendipitous leeks), went looking for the definitive recipe, immediately found this place, and quickly died and went to heaven.

This, kind people, is a RECIPE. Written by people who KNOW how to cook. I can already anticipate exactly what it might taste like. Eh, except for the rosemary. Rosemary? In something so delicate? I wouldn’t think of that, but you can bet I will follow every last instruction to the letter, first time I make it. Anything this well thought-out deserves to be served straight-up, first time.

I thank you. (I also just moved to Seattle, am loving it here.)

Posted on 07.15.08 at 7:27PM

Comment by Cornelia

Oh thank you thank you! I, like others, am staring at 6 heads of lettuce from my CSA box and can only eat so many salads. Plus, soup FREEZES so well for those dark, gray days of winter. Bravo! I’m posting a link to my query on HOMEGROWN.org to inspire others, too.

Posted on 06.17.09 at 12:48PM

Comment by Kathy - My Online Meals

I want this lovely looking soup served warm on Easter Sunday. I love the color, I love the fact that it’s got cream. Thanks, I am grabbing this recipe x

Posted on 03.27.10 at 4:47PM

Comment by Anita

Hm, I’m not sure how it would taste warmed… if you go that route, let us know how it turns out.

Posted on 03.28.10 at 9:39AM

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