Food Network Magazine (April 2016)
It's kind of funny the dishes and flavors you associate with certain times of year. Oh sure, cranberries make you think of Thanksgiving. And maybe a ham brings Easter to mind. (And thanks to Starbucks, pumpkin-spice flavor now pretty much evokes everything from August until New Year's).
But we always associate chilled pea soup with the first weeks of April.
Why? Because every year, we go to this amazing fundraiser for the organization that Clay works for, No Kid Hungry. The fundraiser is called Taste of the Nation. It's awesome -- a gathering of nearly 100 of the best restaurants, wineries and bars from around the area. It's a truly overwhelming smorgasbord of amazing foods. (The organization does similar events all over the country -- you should totally go if there's one near you.) Plus: gif booths.
Anyway, the event in here in D.C. is always the first week of April. And because it's early spring and chefs are eager to showcase seasonal dishes, there are always -- without fail -- a few different places that settle on some version of a chilled pea soup.
This year we counted four. Three of 'em with crab on top. We are, after all, Chesapeake adjacent.
We're not complaining -- it's a lovely cold soup, and the crab combo can be quite delicious.
So when we flipped open the latest Food Network Magazine and saw this Chilled Pea Soup with Spicy Crab, we decided to make this Taste of the Nation staple at home.
This recipe is a breeze. You don't even have to light the stove. You simply blend all the soup ingredients together in a blender, and then top it with the crab, which is dressed in a light, spicy blend of oil and chile paste.
We liked this, but honestly we didn't love it. The soup is a little thin and on the bland side, with the pea flavor not shining through the way we wanted it to. The spicy crab, though, is very tasty.
What would we do to kick this up a notch? Well, we're a little embarrassed to say, but we think it would be a lot better with cream instead of vegetable broth. Not 14.5 ounces of cream! That would be insane. (Actually, it would be delicious, but let's all stay rational here.) Maybe you could do one cup of vegetable broth and 2/3 cup of cream. That would be about the same amount of liquid but we think it would really amp up the flavor.
That and more salt, which is basically our answer to everything in our kitchen.
What's your best idea for tweaking this pea soup?
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins | Active time: 20 mins
For the soup:
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 14.5-ounce can vegetable broth
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
For the crab:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (Asian chili paste)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup fresh lump crabmeat, picked over
1/4 bunch mint, finely chopped
Make the soup: Blend the peas and vegetable broth in a blender until very smooth. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream to emulsify the mixture. Add half of the lemon juice, then chill the soup in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Season with salt and the remaining lemon juice before serving.
Prepare the crab: Whisk the olive oil, sambal oelek and lemon juice together in a bowl. Fold in the crabmeat and mint and season with a pinch of salt. Fill small cups or glasses about three-quarters of the way with the chilled pea soup. Garnish each portion with 1 generous tablespoon of the spicy crab and serve immediately.