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Posts tagged ‘peas’

Spanish Pea Soup with Crispy Ham

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?



Turmeric Scented Rice Pilaf

An impromptu invite to a friend’s for dinner was the reason for this dish.  I had never made a rice pilaf before, and did not have time to run to the store for anything…so I needed to have all the ingredients on hand.  Hmmm…after looking in the fridge and pantry…here are the ingredients I found:

  • Frozen Peas
  • Onions
  • Feta Cheese
  • Rice
  • Turmeric (straight from Africa – thanks M& D)
  • Veggie Broth
  • Pine Nuts

Having never made a rice pilaf before…I have no idea whether these are pilaf-appropriate ingredients…however, they worked for me.  I think I may have popped the rice grains a little too much – making it into an almost risotto-like pilaf.

Start with butter.  (Almost everything I cook includes the line: “Start with butter”…what…?  That could have almost been an alternate title for the blog…hmmmm)

Then add chopped onions, I had two onions, red and white, so I used both.

Mmmmmmmmm…onions…!  I think onions belong in almost everything.  I know there are some onion-haters out there…(you know who you are) but I don’t understand how you can not like something that is essentially the flavor basis for everything.  Here’s an example:  “I hate onions, but I love Cool Ranch Doritos”.  Oh really – did you know that the top flavor ingredient in Doritos seasoning powder is…onion!?!  If you’re adverse reaction is perhaps limited to raw onions…I can offer you a little sympathy.  They can be strong, and they have a bite…and it can take some time for them to grow on you – I recommend starting with very thinly sliced red onions…maybe on a sandwich…but puhlease…don’t use a blanket statements regarding your hatred of onions.  They are in everything, and are like the guest who you always invite to the party because you know that no matter who else shows up…they can make it the greatest party in the world.  Not that I feel strongly about onions or anything.  Moving on.

Also, cooking onions makes the kitchen smell like home to me.

So…there are some pictures missing.  This happens frequently.  I get too busy cooking, and forgot to take photos.  Steps that were photographically missed:

  1. Adding of garlic to sweating onions
  2. Adding of rice to pot to pop the starch…just a bit
  3. Adding of turmeric, other spices and herbs and of course, the vegetable broth

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn down the heat to low and let the rice simmer away for 30 minutes or so.  I also skimped on the broth, as I couldn’t imagine it soaking up more than 6 cups of liquid.

Visual representation of *patience*.  Resist all urges to lift the lid and peak at what is going on inside.

When the rice is nearly done, start toasting the pine nuts.  Don’t walk away from the stove.  I did and almost ruined 3/4 of a cup of pine nuts.  I repeat, don’t walk away from the stove.  At first, it’ll feel like there is nothing happening…and then all of a sudden, a toasty aroma will waft up and by the time you’ve processed what that delicious smell means…you will have come very close to burning at least 1 side of every pine nut.  Give the pan a shake often…and don’t walk away from the stove and you’ll be fine.

Again, missing pictures.  Her’s what you missed:

  1. Stir in frozen peas, the residual heat is enough to thaw them and warm them through
  2. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper, etc.
  3. Stir in toasted (not burnt) pine nuts…pay not attention to the few that look a little beyond ‘toasted’
  4. Stir in crumbled feta

Pour all of this into a dish, sprinkle with a few more pine nuts and feta crumbles and serve immediately…or in my case, cover with foil and transport very carefully in the rear-mounted basket on your bike and ride very carefully to your friend’s for the dinner party, cringing all the way at every lump, pothole, curb and seam in the road.

Consensus:  The feta makes the dish – don’t skimp!

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