Avocado Bisque with Garden Peas & Dill (DF)

 photo IMG_0421.jpgThe peas are ready! The peas are ready! Oh how I do love garden peas – the real deal, the kind you have to shell. I didn’t much care for them as a child (one for each year of life with a liberal swallow of milk so as not to choke), but have grown to like peas, but this is one area where frozen is really not the same as fresh. If you don’t care for peas, see if you can find the real McCoy at a farmer’s market and give them a go – raw, straight from the shell. Oh mercy. Spring is glorious.

I have found that my family enjoys garden peas most when they are left alone. Yesterday’s harvest may have yielded enough to cook and serve as a side, but I knew they wouldn’t like them as well, so I just rinsed those puppies and threw them in a bowl – shell and eat at will. But what else to serve? A ravenous 7 year old cannot live on garden peas alone, even if his mother would…

An old standby of mine that was ripe for an update: Avocado Bisque. I first encountered this recipe in the cookbook that came with my VitaMix, the cookbook that my sister previewed for me and annotated. Avocado Bisque earned a Bigg Sis rating of “Great,” and it is. I made a few adaptations to remove the moo and the chick and we enjoyed a lovely and light dinner of Avocado Bisque (with garden peas and dill), whole wheat bread (as evidenced by the crumb that snuck into my soup picture), and a fabulous green salad with garden lettuce. Continue reading

That’s Company Good

Over the years of fiddling in the kitchen, my husband and I have developed a rating system for our creations that ranges from “Hmm, I thought that would work” to “That’s company good.”  In between there are categories like “has potential,” “needs tweaking,” “good kid food,” and “dinner with close friends.”  Well last night, I cooked for about 25 minutes and still scored a rating of “company good.”  The fact that garden vegetables were featured just made the victory that much sweeter.  So for your late spring dining pleasure, I offer you….. Company Good Pea Soup with Crispy Leeks.

Now before all of you pea shunners shrug and click somewhere else, I should tell you that my husband is new to enjoying peas.  Apparently his childhood reaction to the little round greenies was rather on the high side of drama, and yet, when I discovered that the kids would eat ANY kind of peas, he decided to give them another go.  It seems to me that he mostly tolerated cooked frozen peas, and put a good face on it to be a role model.  But when we had pea success in the garden, his love affair with peas truly began.  This soup uses both frozen and fresh peas to the best advantage of each, in my opinion.  If you are not a pea fan, I would encourage you to try them fresh.  It’s a whole different ball of yum.  If you’re already a pea fan, this soup will make you appreciate them all the more.  So here we go……

Company Good Pea Soup with Crispy Leeks – served four for dinner (with enough leftover for lunch for four) with bread and salad

  • olive oil for pan
  • 1 leek
  • 6 c veggie broth
  • 5 c frozen peas
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground pepper (I used white to hide it)
  • 1 t thyme
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • shelled fresh peas (I started with about 4 handfuls fresh, but you can just use however many you can get your hands on)

Let’s start with the Crispy Leeks.  Cut the stiff green and the root end off the leek (save for future broth).  Using the white and some of the light green part of the leek, cut the leek in half the long way and then in half again, you should have what looks like long pickle spears.  Place the leek into a bowl of water and swish them around (leeks tend to hide dirt between the layers).  Pour glug of olive oil into pan and warm on low.  While oil is warming, remove leeks from water and cut into about 1/2 inch pieces (no, I didn’t measure and never will, so there).  Add leeks to pan.  Proceed to largely neglect them for about 20 minutes, stirring periodically. This should be about how long you need to make the soup. They will begin to brown, and this is GOOD. Do not become alarmed. Reduce the heat a bit and keep an eye on them. You want to brown them as much as you can without burning them. If using cast iron, you can turn the pan off when you’re getting close and just let them sit in the pan to finish up.

OK, so while your leeks are browning…  The SOUP!!!  Pour half of the veggie broth in a blender.  Add the frozen peas and go to it.  If your blender doesn’t like dealing with the frozen peas, add more of the broth.  When blended, pour into a pot and add remaining broth, salt, pepper and thyme.   Warm soup over medium heat (and don’t forget to stir your leeks).  When warm and your leeks are browned as you would like, add juice of 1/2 lemon.  Stir.  Serve in bowls, adding a handful of fresh peas and a spoonful of crispy leeks.  The fresh peas will barely cook (my limit on cooking for most fresh veggies) and will add just the right crisp bite to the velvety soup.  Delish.  That’s company good.