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Sweet Pea Soup with Fresh Sorrel

Depending on how fresh they are, peas can vary greatly in how long they take to cook. If you can taste before you buy, choose peas that are tender and sweet rather than starchy. Crème fraîche, a cultured cream, adds a silky smoothness and tart flavor to the soup, while sorrel gives it a fresh, lemony tang. If you can’t find sorrel, use lemon basil or regular basil.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. green peas in the pod (3 cups shelled) 
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green portions
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste 
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh sorrel leaves  
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche 

Directions:

Shell the peas, reserving 3 cups of the freshest-looking pods. Rinse the pods well and coarsely chop. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the broth and pods and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Strain the broth into a bowl and discard the pods.

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks and the 1/2 tsp. salt and cook until softened, stirring frequently and reducing the heat as needed to keep the leeks from browning, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the peas, broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the peas are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the sorrel and cook until wilted, about 1 minute more.

In a blender or food processor, puree the soup, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the soup among individual bowls and top each serving with about 1 Tbs. crème fraîche. Or, if you want to serve the soup cold, let it cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Eat Well, by Charity Ferreira (Oxmoor House, 2008).