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.

 

Warm Steak and Farro Salad with Roasted Beets, Onions and Chickpeas

Warm Steak and Farro Salad with Roasted Beets, Onions and Chickpeas

~ Beef Ribeye, Farro, Golden Beets, Spring Onion, Chickpeas, Tarragon ~

It’s safe to say that everything I bought today at the market ended up in this dish. Sweet onions, golden beets and fresh chickpeas vied for my attention this morning at the farmers’ market, so I did what any sensible person would do. I bought all of them. Moving on to the local ranch’s stall displaying their glistening meat, I  continued my spree and snagged 2 seriously soft and richly marbled rib eye steaks, each weighing in at nearly 1 pound each. I wasn’t sure exactly how I would put our dinner together, but I knew it would be magnificent with these fresh and earthy ingredients.

Warm Steak and Farro Salad with Roasted Beets, Onions and Chickpeas
Serves 4

3 medium golden beets, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch batons or wedges
1 large sweet yellow onion, halved lengthwise, each half thickly sliced in wedges
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups farro
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
2 or 3 rib eye steaks, about 1 inch thick
1/2 cup shelled fresh chick peas
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
Sriracha (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C. Toss the beets and onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven until beets are tender and onions are beginning to brown, about 45 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the farro: Combine the stock, farro and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil,  garlic, paprika, cumin and cayenne. Partially cover to keep warm.
Prepare the steaks: Season the steaks all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add steaks, without overcrowding, and cook until brown on both sides, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Cut steaks crosswise in 1/2 inch thick slices.
While the steaks are resting, add the fresh chickpeas to the skillet and briefly saute over medium heat until their color brightens, 1 to 2 minutes.
To serve, spoon the farro into the center of a serving platter or divide among serving plates. Arrange steak in the center of the farro and drizzle with any accumulated juices. Place the vegetables around the steak and drizzle with any accumulated baking juices. Scatter the chickpeas over. Garnish with fresh tarragon. If desired drizzle with more olive oil. Serve warm with Sriracha sauce on the side.