If this soup was any easier, it would be in a can on the shelf - except it wouldn't be as healthy or fresh tasting. And, it's as close as your freezer ... that bag of frozen peas. Seriously. In just under 30 minutes, you'll have a creamy soup that will be great hot, cold or at room temperature, alongside some crusty bread and sliced heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market.
I adore savory, smokey split pea soup, but it's a bit too heavy for hot summer days. This soup celebrates the tender, sweetness of fresh peas, and marries that to delicate herbs - very much in the French tradition. You can easily dress this soup up for a party with all sorts of garnishments - snipped fresh herbs such as chives, lovage, thyme, sorrel, basil or even a few edible flowers ( Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Johnny-Jump-Ups for example ). This is why I grow so many types of herbs and blossoms in my garden, as it's fun to forage for a bit of this and that.
I often use snap pea pods (which I almost always have in the fridge), thinly sliced on the diagonal. Tender-crisp sliced pea pods enhance the refreshing character of this vibrant soup. Of course, tiny, diced fresh shallots, the white parts of green onions, fresh pea shoots, micro-greens, croutons or crispy baked chickpeas would be awesome, too!
Here's another neat thing about this soup: It can be customized. Add some lettuce. A bit of baby spinach. A few spears of cooked green or white asparagus. Even cooked/sautéed leeks, Haricots verts or even zucchini. Rummage around in your produce bin/freezer and use up those dibs and dabs in the spirit of seasonality as well as 'waste not, want not' frugality.
I've seen recipes for this soup with coconut milk. That doesn't work for me. When I run across an odd pairing like that, I'll go immediately to the one book in my culinary collection that gets used more than any other: The Flavor Bible. This book has kept me from going off into the culinary 'ditch' more times than I can count. It's invaluable for anybody who wants to be more adventurous in the kitchen, and perhaps begin developing recipes. Simply look up the basic food: in this case, Peas - In General. The Flavor Bible will give you solid recommendations on flavor affinities and pairings that truly work. Anyway, coconut ain't in there.
Using the guidance from The Flavor Bible, you can 'riff' on any basic recipe, knowing that you'll be on solid ground. The recommendations are presented in 'levels'. Those in BOLD ALL CAPS are the 'sure thing' category. Lower case bold, will be secondary. Lower case regular, tertiary. The book offers hundreds of ingredients, along with the herbs, spices and other seasonings that allow you to coax maximum flavor impact from food. You'll be able to explore authentic global culinary influences, and become better able to work intuitively (and more confidently!) in the kitchen.
I'm a big believer - even before our quick and frequent trips to the grocery store were curtailed by the pandemic - in keeping certain 'basics' in my freezer. Green beans and Haricots Verts. Okra. Edamame. Corn. Peppers. Mushrooms. And, Peas. This is economical, and allows me the flexibility to cook something great on the fly.
I keep most of my vegetables in clear zip-lock bags so that I can immediately see what and how much I have. Frozen vegetables aren't going to 'go bad' hidden in the back of a produce bin, and therefore waste money. Frozen doesn't work for everything, but it does for probably 75% of my cooking. Buy fresh when you need it and make it count.
The process for this soup couldn't be easier.
Dice the onions, mince the garlic. Get the peas outta the freezer. Measure out some plant milk. Round up your seasonings.
Ready to cook? Great!
Sauté the onions and garlic for a few minutes over medium heat, until the onions are translucent. Drizzle in some water - only as needed - to keep them from sticking. This method is called 'wet sauté'.
I add a pinch of salt each time that I add an ingredient, layering and building flavor.
When the onions and garlic are ready, add the peas with about one cup of water. Bring up the heat - just under a boil - and cook the peas for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat back down to medium and add the plant milk. I used oat milk, but I think soy or almond milks would also be fine. Use what you have. Cook the peas, onions and garlic for a few minutes more. Now, you're ready to add your thickening slurry of plant milk and a tablespoon of Wondra Quick Mixing Flour. I keep a couple small jelly jars in the kitchen to shake up and combine a slurry for dishes like this.
Now, raise the heat to medium-high, and you'll want to just break a boil. This will activate the flour starches to begin thickening. Cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly. This isn't the time to answer the phone.
Remove from heat, and, using either a hand-held immersion blender or high-speed countertop blender, puree the soup for 2-3 minutes. Taste. Adjust seasonings.
This soup can be served chilled, room temperature or hot. Garnishments could include, but aren't limited to: fresh snap peas sliced thinly on the diagonal, fresh Haricots Verts sliced thinly on the diagonal, croutons, minced shallots, sliced scallions, fresh herbs (chives, dill, lovage, parsley, basil etc), edible flowers, a drizzle of vegan yogurt.
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