This week at the Farmer’s Market I was intrigued by green almonds. I’ve never had green almonds, nor read about them. Upon sampling, I decided that their grassy, young flavor tanged up with some preserved lemons and chile would make a nice garnish for sweet pea soup.
Fresh English Peas won’t be around for much longer and since I’m still nursing a healing mouth and eating soft foods, I made Pea Soup. I used a simple recipe from Daniel Boulud, added more peas and shoots in place of the fava beans, and finished the soup with my own embellishments: crisped bacon, a thick tangle of pea shoots and sunflower sprouts, and a green (raw, unshelled) almond relish.
Here’s the Recipe:
8 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound pea shoots and sunflower shoots
1/2 pound sugar snap peas
1 lb fresh shelled English Peas, plus 1/2 cup more peas
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb green almonds
1 preserved lemon
1 red fresno chili
In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate. Pour off the fat in the pot.
In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and leek and snap peas, cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add the stock, 4 slices of the cooked bacon, 1 rosemary sprig and a pinch each of salt and white pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the bacon and rosemary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender.
Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add half the shoots and cook for 3 minutes. Add the peas and the parsley and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute; drain. Add the peas and parsley to the blender and puree until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the broth to loosen the mixture. Transfer the soup and the remaining broth to a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water to cool.
In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream and garlic to a boil. Simmer over low heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Strain the garlic cream into a bowl and let cool.
Blanch 1/2 cup peas in boiling water for about 1/5 minutes and shock into ice water. Set aside.
Chop green almonds, preserved lemon and chile. Set aside.
Scatter rim of bowls with shoots. Ladle the chilled soup into bowls and drizzle with the garlic cream. Crumble the remaining 4 slices of bacon into each bowl, top with a small portion of blanched peas, add a spoonful of the almond garnish, and serve.