With warmer days on the way, chilled soups are a bright and refreshing alternative to a steaming bowl of soup. And while cool soups are certainly a solution to the heat of summer, they are also delicious year-round. In fact, the slightly chilled temperature often amplifies the flavor and freshness of the ingredients, especially when the soup is as elegantly simple as this pea soup.
Light and luscious, this pea soup is a lovely spring teaser. A billowy puree of sweet peas is lifted and brightened by swirls of lemon-flecked creme fraiche. The anise-scented tarragon and slivers of peppery pink radish finish the soup, adding a shock of contrasting color and the satisfying bite of a crisp crudite.
I prefer the savory flavor of the chicken stock in this recipe, but additional water may be substituted for a vegetarian version -- in which case, be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. The soup may be served slightly chilled or at room temperature. Serve as a light first course for three to four people, or divvy it up between six to eight demitasse cups for a pretty appetizer.
Chilled Pea Soup With Creme Fraiche, Lemon and Tarragon
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes, plus cooling time
Yield: About 2 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
3 cups shelled English peas
1 cup chicken stock (or water)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup water
1/3 cup creme fraiche (or plain whole-milk Greek yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Sliced radishes and fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until translucent without coloring, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peas and saute until bright and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock, salt and pepper and simmer until the peas are very tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
Carefully transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Add 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. (The soup should be a little thick and not too runny.) Taste for seasoning and transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
Whisk the creme fraiche and lemon zest in a small bowl.
Divide the soup between serving bowls or small cups. Add a spoonful of the cream to the soup and gently swirl, leaving light traces of the cream visible. Garnish each serving with 1 to 2 radish slices and sprinkle with snipped tarragon leaves.
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