Chilled Pea Soup with Crème Fraiche, Lemon and Tarragon


If it’s possible for a soup to evoke a dessert, then this chilled pea soup does just that. I blame the crème fraiche and lemon. When paired together they are sublime, one degree of sweet separation from the makings of an ethereal dessert. The sugar in the peas completes this imagery, and while this soup is decidedly savory with the sharp and licorice notes of radish and tarragon, one can’t help but feel just a little naughty with each billowy spoonful of luscious soup.

Chilled Pea Soup with Crème Fraîche, Lemon and Tarragon
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups shelled English peas
1 cup chicken stock (or water)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup crème fraîche (or plain Greek yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Fresh tarragon
Sliced radishes

1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent without coloring, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peas and sauté until bright and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock, salt, and pepper and simmer until the peas are very tender, about 4 minutes.
2. Carefully transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the 1 cup water, ¼ cup at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. The soup should be a little thick and not too runny. Transfer to a bowl to cool and taste for seasoning.
3. Whisk the crème fraîche and lemon zest in a small bowl.
4. Divide the soup between serving bowls or small cups. Add a spoonful of the cream to the soup and gently swirl, leaving light traces of the cream visible. Garnish with snipped tarragon leaves and sliced radishes.

 

Beat the Heat: Gazpacho

Beat the Heat: Gazpacho

~ Gazpacho ~

If heat could speak, then it’s shouting right now. It’s so hot outside, the candles have melted on the terrace, the dog hasn’t moved since yesterday, and we have blankets pinned down over our skylights to keep out the sun. In this heat, food must be easy, cool and light. Preparation should be kept to a minimum, and any heat generating appliances forbidden. In our home, this means it’s time for Gazpacho.

When I make gazpacho, we know that summer has arrived. We are dining al fresco, and the temperature is approaching triple digits. It’s a hot weather dinner staple that’s followed us from country to country, always called upon when we are in the midst of a heatwave. This gazpacho is chunky, and we affectionately call it a liquid salad. Not a fan of mushy consistencies, I dice all of the vegetables and float them in seasoned tomato juice. The result is a cool soup with loads of crunch and texture, satisfying and refreshing to eat. And in this heat, crunching our soup is the most exertion we can manage.


~
Gazpacho

Serve with cheese and bread, melon and prosciutto and a chilled rosé or sauvignon blanc. Serves 6-8.

32 ounces or 1 liter tomato juice
4 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, diced, with juices
2 spring onions, white parts thinly sliced, green parts reserved for garnish
1 English cucumber, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 sweet red pepper, seeded, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 small fennel bulb, fronds removed, cut in 1/4 inch dice
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (or parsley)

Garnish:
Sliced jalapeños
Cilantro or parsley
Lime wedges

Combine all of the ingredients, except the cilantro in a large bowl. Mix together and taste for seasoning. Refrigerate at least one hour or up to 6 hours. Before serving, stir in the cilantro. Serve ganished with sliced green parts of the spring onions, sliced jalapeños, additional cilantro and lime wedges.