Mr. Food Musings had an old filling replaced yesterday and called me from the office in the afternoon, probably with a string of drool hanging off his chin, to remind me that soup might be a good option for dinner. He caught me as I was running out the door, so I quickly crossed out the okra and tomatoes on my grocery list and opened a cookbook. I've been in the mood for a black bean soup for quite some time - it's all Laurie Colwin's fault - but the recipe I found in the Gourmet cookbook required 8 hours of soaking and 3 hours of cooking. Given that my new food writing class started last night, I needed something a wee bit faster, so I plowed through till I found a pea soup. (Good metaphor for my brain and the weather of late.) And okay, I admit I got sucked in by the sexy french name.
(that's French Pea Soup for you non-francophiles)
This soup would also be delicious garnished with a dollop of mascarpone cheese or goat cheese (if you've recently made the lentils you'll have both on hand). Be warned - the croutons are like small rafts of butter lost at sea, so a few will do you fine for an entire bowl.
3 cups sweet baguette cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (white parts only, 3-4 leeks)
2 TBSP unsalted butter
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 10-ounce packages frozen peas, thawed
4 cups chopped butter lettuce (about one head)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
MAKE THE CROUTONS
1. Place oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350. Drizzle bread cubes with butter in shallow baking dish or rimmed baking sheet, tossing to coat, and bake, stirring occasionally until golden and crisp, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt.
MAKE THE SOUP
1. Wash leeks well in a bowl of cold water; lift out and drain well. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, till softened, 6-7 minutes. Add stock and water and bring to a boil. Add peas and lettuce and simmer, partially covered, until peas are tender 6-10 minutes. Stir in mint.
2. Puree soup in batches in a blender, food processor, or in the pot with an immersion blender until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper and reheat over medium-low heat, stirring, until hot.
3. Garnish with croutons or, for the chewing impaired, one small perfect mint leaf. Gaze upon it in silent contentment before serving it to the love of your life.