Sweet peas are some of the vegetable kingdom’s greatest little gifts. They’re perfectly sized, vibrant and sweet – and they possess an irresistible “green” flavor. Come spring, they’re also one of the first veggies to show up at farmers’ markets or bearing fruit in your garden.
I love to eat sweet peas in many different ways: sautéed with basil and mint, or in a wholesome-yet-delicious bowl of farro, or sometimes even in a salad. But today I’m excited to share a recipe with you that I think makes the sweet pea even more enticing.
Not only is this soup full of that addictive green-pea essence, it’s also a perfect canvas for the exotic flavors of the coulis. The pan-roasted cumin, the fresh herbs and the hint of heat in the coulis, paired with the sweetness of the peas, deliver a truly unique taste experience.
Needless to say, the soup is superb with fresh peas, but you can use frozen ones too. They work just as well.
Food & wine pairing: France, Viogner with sweet pea soup
A full-bodied, aromatic white wine is what this dish calls for. Try a Viognier from the South of France or a Vouvray from Sancerre.
Sweet pea soup with cumin-mint coulis
active time: 30 min
For the cumin-mint coulis
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons sea salt for blanching the mint
- 1 small bunch fresh mint (2 oz) (55 g) – leaves removed from stalks
- 8 cilantro sprigs – tough stems trimmed
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 garlic clove – skinned and halved
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the soup
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Vidalia onion – skinned and cut in 1/8″ pieces
- 2 large garlic cloves – skinned and finely chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 lbs (680 g) fresh or frozen shelled peas (if using frozen peas, do not defreeze)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups spring water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
- Step 1: Heat a small heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn deep golden and are fragrant — about 2 minutes — shaking the pan constantly and taking care not to burn the spice. Transfer to a mortar and grind until coarsely ground.
- Step 2: Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes.
- Step 3: Bring 8 cups of water to a fast boil. Add the salt and mint leaves and blanch for 10 seconds only. Immediately remove from boiling water and place in ice water bath. Once cooled, drain and squeeze leaves as dry as possible and lay on a paper towel.
- Step 4: Coarsely chop the mint with scissors. Place mint, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, cayenne and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process at high speed until very finely chopped and smooth.
- Cook’s note: The coulis can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Step 5: To make the soup – Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot at medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden, stirring only from time to time. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until the garlic has released its flavor, but doesn’t brown. Add the wine and continue to sauté for 4 minutes, until the wine has completely evaporated and the onions look glossy. Add the peas, stock, 2 1/2 cups of water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to between medium and medium-low, cover the pot and simmer for 7 minutes until the peas are tender.
- Step 6: Purée the soup with a stick blender or food processor until soup is very smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crème fraîche and additional water to the desired consistency and purée a few more seconds until well incorporated. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Step 7: Ladle the soup in soup bowls. Place a spoonful of the cumin-mint coulis off center and draw a skewer through the coulis several times to create a spiky pattern (as shown in the photo above). Serve immediately.
- Cook’s note: The soup can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, but it is best eaten as soon as it’s made. It will lose its vibrant green color the longer it stands.