Earlier this week, it was a typically grey day in upstate New York.
In the land of the grey, the one red fruit is king.
(The French name for those rose hips above, I recently learned, is scratchy-butt.)
But wait! All is not grey, not even on the cusp of December. See it, in the middle of that picture above?
Mint! An enormous patch of it, actually, completely undamaged by frost.
So I picked some, and I made fresh pea and mint soup. My friend Ari introduced me to this soup a few years ago, and it’s become one of my favorite things. At first I was skeptical, thinking of fresh peas mainly as a plain side dish that would be pretty boring as a soup. But this soup is amazing. It’s rich and smooth and sprightly at the same time. The flavors of fresh peas and mint blend together so well that you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.
I tend to make it when we’re having people over for dinner, because of the aforementioned amazingness, but also because it’s beautiful, fast, and easy. It requires minimal chopping of vegetables and only a few ingredients. I have made it with leeks or shallots, and this time I thought we had some shallots but then discovered we’d run out, so I just used an extra onion. And it was still great!
Somehow making a soup with the flavors of spring was the perfect thing to do with a late fall harvest, and made the day less grey.
Fresh Pea and Mint Soup (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Two 10-oz packages frozen peas
1 onion, chopped
White part of 2 leeks, chopped (or you can substitute a few minced shallots, or just more onion)
1/3-1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
4 cups vegetable stock or water (you can make vegetable stock with the green parts of the leeks)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1. If you’re making vegetable stock: clean the leeks very well (here’s a good tutorial). Cut off the green parts, and simmer them in 4 cups water.
2. In a medium pot, cook the white parts of the leeks (or shallots) and onion in butter over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, until soft.
3. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Add frozen peas and cook 3 minutes.
4. Turn the heat off and add mint and salt.
5. Puree soup in a blender or with an immersion blender, then add sour cream, stir well, and serve.