Oh, March…you don’t really belong to winter…and yet you’re not a full-fledged spring month either. Sigh…
I don’t know about you, but this time of year, I start craving all things spring. Ramps, fiddleheads, greens, onions and asparagus, but there is one vegetable in particular that I look forward to the most. Spring peas. I think my devotion to the fresh-from-the-garden-spring-peas comes from disliking all peas that were placed in front of me before sometime in my mid-twenties…and is most likely related to the fact that 99% of those were of the frozen or canned variety.
Here’s a revelation. This Spring Pea soup can be enjoyed any time of year. Let me say that again, you can enjoy the delightful crisp and sweet taste of spring peas any time you feel like it. Herein lies the genius of this Spanish Pea Soup with crispy ham and the Barefoot Contessa! So even if it is still dumping snow in your neck of the woods…it can be springtime in your mouth!
Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham
Good olive oil
½ cup chopped shallots (2 large shallots)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 pounds frozen peas, such as Bird’s Eye Sweet Garden
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thin slices Spanish Serrano ham or Italian prosciutto
In a deep (8 x 5-inch) heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chicken stock, frozen peas, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender until coarsely pureed, season to taste.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the ham in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 5 to 8 minutes, until crisp.
Reheat the soup and serve in shallow bowls with a slice of crispy ham on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve hot.
The ham is an integral part of this dish…a nice salty and crunchy complement to the sweet peas. We opted to serve some crusty bread alongside and we couldn’t resist yet another Barefoot Contessa recipe for Garlic Roasted Cauliflower to make the dinner a bit heartier.
This is so simple, quick and fresh that it makes a perfect weeknight meal, and leftovers are wonderful, even served cold for lunch with a dollop of creme fraiche and of course the drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt!
What is your favorite spring craving?