Pea Soup with Lovage

Maybe you love peas, maybe you hate them. Or maybe you’re like me and just get excited about them once a year.

Call me a pea snob. The only time I’ll eat peas alone, with nothing else but a little salt and butter, is when they’re plucked fresh from someone’s garden. Frozen peas, in my opinion, are fine when they’re not the star attraction. As for canned peas? Ew.

I saw peas piled high the other day at the farmers market. Pea season is fleeting, so I took advantage of the moment and bought about a pound and a half. I wanted to make something that celebrated their sweetness, rather than toss them in a recipe that highlights something else. I came home and shucked them, measured how much I had (a mere 1 1/2 cups!) and decided to try a half recipe of this soup. It looked pure and simple. The addition of lovage, rather than mint, was a bit of a surprise. I’ve been dying to make SOMETHING with lovage. It looks like tall parsley, but smells and tastes a bit like celery.  It’s almost impossible to buy cuttings of it. Herb gardens are about the only place you’ll find it. How to use it is still a bit of a mystery to me.

If you don’t have lovage, use mint instead. You’ll find this soup earthy and unadulterated. And, it tastes mostly of peas. Depending on how you feel about that will determine how well you’d like this soup.

The addition of lovage was terrific, by the way. It added a little celery and a whisper of curry. A little went a long way.

Pea and Lovage Soup
slightly adapted from The River Cottage Cookbook

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil or unsalted butter
About 3 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 small head romaine lettuce, shredded
About 3 cups good chicken or vegetable stock
5 to 6 lovage leaves, plus 4 sprigs to garnish (or a handful of mint leaves)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Saute the onion in the butter or olive oil in a large saute pan until soft. Add the peas and lettuce. Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, simmer gently for 4 to 6 minutes, until the fattest of the peas are completely tender. Remove from the heat and add the lovage leaves, then blend the soup in a blender. If you want your soup to have texture, stop blending before completely smooth. For a velvety texture, puree longer. If soup is too thick, add more stock or water.

To serve cold, chill in the refrigerator.

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a side.


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