Martha Stewart Living (June 2009)
Clay celebrated a birthday this past Wednesday.
In the run-up to the big day, we had lots of conversations about what we should do to celebrate.
Make a reservation? We were lucky enough to be in New York City all last week, and ate at some phenomenal restaurants, which you may already know if you're following us on Twitter. So we were a bit restauranted out. And because we we had missed our CSA share while we were gone, we were able to take a double share this week. And though we often act as if we expect them to, those vegetables aren't going to eat themselves.
If we don't go to a restaurant, should we throw a party? It wasn't a birthday ending in "0," so there didn't seem to be a need to throw a big party, like the amazing surprise party Zach had thrown last year. So a big party was out.
Go see Transformers 2? No. Thank. You.
Instead, we opted for dinner in our backyard with our friends Drew and Ralph. And we decided to kick off the meal with this Chilled Fresh Pea and Buttermilk Soup.
Though we often make soups when the weather is cool, we've largely stayed away from soup in the summer months over the past few years. Tucking into a steaming bowl of hot liquid is decidedly not refreshing during a hot summer in our nation's capitol.
June's Martha Stewart Living has just the remedy with their "Soups on Ice" feature. We love the idea of the Chilled Carrot with breadcrumbs and the Chilled Spicy Tomato, but we were most excited about this Chilled Pea Soup.
The idea of a delicious pea soup served cold -- flavored by leeks, Yukon Gold potatoes, vermouth and buttermilk -- was too much to pass up.
We attempted to find fresh peas, but weren't able to get our hands on any that looked worth buying, so we opted for frozen (the recipe says you can use either). Though served cold, making this dish is similar to creating any other soup: saute vegetables, add liquid and simmer.
But here all that cooking is done in 20 minutes, the soup is pureed in a blender, buttermilk is added, and the liquid cools in the refrigerator.
Rather than serve the soup adorned with pea tendrils, and suggested by the recipe, we instead made a grilled crouton by slicing bread, drizzling it with olive oil and grilling it briefly until nicely toasted (3-5 minutes per side).
On a whim, we also added a dollop of crème fraîche into each serving. We made our own crème fraîche by mixing together a cup of cream and two tablespoons of buttermilk, and letting it sit covered at room temperature overnight.
The finished soup was truly special -- light and verdant and fresh. And the potatoes, leeks, chicken stock and vermouth made for a really nice foundation. The buttermilk in the soup and the crème fraîche added a terrific tangy balance.
It was the perfect kickoff to Clay's birthday dinner!
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 cup thinly sliced leek (pale-green parts only, rinsed well)
* 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
* 1/4 cup dry vermouth
* 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
* 2 cups water
* 1 pound shelled fresh or thawed frozen peas (3 cups)
* 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
* Salt and pepper
* Pea tendrils, for garnish
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in potato and dry vermouth, and reduce slightly, about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, 7 to 8 minutes.
2. Bring to a boil. Add peas. Cover, and cook just until peas are tender and bright green, about 2 minutes. Filling a blender halfway and covering with a kitchen towel, puree soup in batches. Strain through a coarse sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Stir in buttermilk, and season with salt and pepper. Chill soup for at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Garnish each serving with pea tendrils if desired.