Pea and Sorrel Soup

May 29, 2016
Hot or cold, this is a really good soup. I made mine without cream or milk (though the photos show that I did try to fancy up the look of it with trails of yogurt*). Some cooks thicken and enrich the soup by adding egg yolk and/or cream**, but this version gives you full access to the flavours of peas and sorrel.
I melted 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter in a four-quart saucepan, then added a sliced small onion and cooked it gently for five minutes. While it cooked I prepped the sorrel.
I had bought a little bag of sorrel at the farmers' market, and I also had a patch in my garden that had actually over-wintered for me (the first time ever). Altogether I had about four cups of sorrel. I removed some of the thicker stems but left the others. All of the sorrel went into the pot with the onion, and I covered the pot for a few minutes while the sorrel wilted. (Don't panic when the bright green sorrel turns to a dull olive green; this is the way of sorrel.)
At this point I added a quart of chicken stock. You could use vegetable stock or just plain water. Some people prefer water here to emphasize the fresh flavours of the vegetables. When the stock came to a boil I added 4 cups of frozen peas. You could use fresh, if you have a mighty pea-patch and if you don't mind shelling all those peas for use in soup***. If you have snap peas on hand, wash them, roughly chop them, and add to the soup pot along with the peas.
I added a teaspoon of sea salt and brought the stock back to a boil, then covered the pot and turned the heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. I pureed it with my immersion blender (but until I had one I pureed soups in the regular blender, in two batches if necessary). And then, because I don't like little pieces getting caught in my throat, I ran the pureed soup through a food mill--by hand, of course. A fine sieve or a china hat would also work for this.
And the soup was done. Very quick, lots of nice green veggies. I cooled it to room temperature and then put it in the refrigerator to chill. I could have eaten it as a hot soup right away, but our summer arrived unexpectedly scorching this week, so cold soup is what I wanted.
You can serve your soup in a flat soup bowl, a summery glass dish, or even a wine glass, as the picture shows. You could also serve it in coffee cups, handing them to guests during sitting-around time before the main meal.  No spoons needed if you serve it in cups or wine glasses. Save on dishwashing . . .
I had ended up with two cups of pea sprouts, also from the market and didn't want to use them in a salad, so I added them to the soup at the same time I added the peas.
And then the next day I wasn't able to resist a small bag of nettles at our second farmers' market of the week. So I washed the nettles (without touching them much) and wilted them in a couple tablespoons of water for about five minutes. I poured about two cups of the soup (chilled, by now) into the cooked nettles and pureed the mixture with the immersion blender then returned all this to the big jar of soup. This used up the nettles, for which I had no other use in mind, and added all that nettle goodness to the already good soup. It didn't change the flavour.
*The easy way to do this is to put a couple of tablespoons of plain yogurt (mine is sheep's milk, full fat) into a small plastic bag and clip off a teeny tiny bit from the corner of the bag. Squeeze the yogurt out through the opening. I always clip off a bit too much, so my tiny stream of yogurt is wider than I like. Also, if the soup is relatively thin, as this one is, some of the yogurt trail might sink. I call it the casual look.
**If you want to enrich the soup this way, then beat an egg yolk with, say, a scant
quarter-cup of heavy cream. When the soup has been pureed and sieved, add about half a cup of the hot soup to the cream and egg yolk, a tablespoon at a time, to temper the egg.  Then stir this mixture back into the soup pot and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the soup has thickened slightly.
***If, however, you do decide to shell your own fresh peas, be sure to cook up the (washed) pods to create a pea-flavoured stock for the soup.


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