Chilled Spring Pea Soup
From Café Boulud Cookbook by Daniel Boulud (Simon & Schuster, Scribner, 1998)
Adapted by StarChefs

Yield: 6 Servings

When I can, I like to prepare this soup with a variety of peas - I love it with sweet peas, sugar snaps, snow peas and fava beans, which become an honorary member of the pea family here - but if you make it with only English sweet peas, you'll re-create the French classic Potage St.-Germain, a creamy pea soup named for the town outside Paris where peas used to be grown.


    Pea soup:
  • 1 ounce slab of bacon, cut in half, or 4 slices bacon
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced, washed and dried
  • 5 cups unsalted chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 6 cups fresh peas, preferably an assortment, such as 1 pounds English sweet peas, shelled; pound fava beans, shelled; pound sugar snap peas, thinly sliced; and pound snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves only
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
    Rosemary cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled, split and germ removed
  • 5 slices bacon
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper

For the pea soup:

Heat a medium casserole over medium heat and toss in the bacon. Brown the bacon very well, then pour off all of the rendered fat. Add the olive oil to the pot and warm it, then add the celery, onion, leek and a little pepper. Lower the heat and cook the vegetables, stirring, until they soften but don't color, about 15 minutes.

Pour in the chicken stock and toss in the sprig of rosemary. Bring to a boil and lower the heat, simmer the soup for 15 minutes. Spoon out and discard the bacon and rosemary. Pour the soup into the container of a blender and purée until smooth. (You may have to do this in batches.) Set the soup aside to cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss the sugar snap and snow peas into the pot and cook for 3 minutes. Add the sweet peas and cook for another 3 minutes. Put the fava beans in a colander and plunge the colander into the pot so that the beans can boil for 1 minute. Toss the parsley into the colander and cook everything a final minute. Remove the colander, leaving the fava beans and parsley in it, turn the other peas into a strainer, and run all of the ingredients under cold water to cool them down quickly and to set their colors; drain again. Pop the fava beans out of their skins by pressing each bean between your thumb and index finger. (You may have to pinch the skin of some of the favas open with your fingernail.) Dry the parsley leaves by squeezing them between your palms.

Put the peas, fava beans, parsley and a little of the soup into the container of a blender and whir until the vegetables are smooth. (You might have to add more of the soup to keep things moving in the container.) Add the remainder of the soup, in batches, and whir until you have a smooth mixture. Push the soup through a fine-mesh strainer to make certain it is smooth and free of small pieces of pea skin, then taste it for salt and pepper. Pour the soup into a container and refrigerate until cold.

For the rosemary cream:

Bring the cream, rosemary and garlic to a boil in a small pot, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, just until the cream thickens a little. Strain the cream, discarding the rosemary and garlic, season with salt and pepper and chill.

While the cream is cooling, brown and lightly crisp the bacon in a pan over medium heat, then drain it well between several layers of paper towels. When the bacon is cool, chop it into small bits.

To serve:
Ladle the soup into cold bowls and drizzle a bit of rosemary cream over each portion, top with a sprinkling of bacon.

Wine Pairing

An Austrian Grüner Veltliner – it even smells like spring peas.


Updated: October 2004