Friday, April 20, 2007

Purée of English Pea Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps

English Peas are only available for about 6 minutes in April (yes, I'm exaggerating, but you get the point), so when I saw them at Balducci's, I knew I had to slide this dish into the schedule sooner rather than later. "Carol," you may ask, "do I really have to use English peas to make this soup, or can I just use regular peas instead?"

Don't make me smack you.

Believe it or not, it actually does make a difference when you use English peas. They're sweeter, fresher-tasting, and stay greener when you cook with them. I bought 3 lbs. of them in their pods to yield the 3 C of shucked peas I'd need. I popped The Departed into the DVD player and started shucking. And if I may digress for a moment (like you can stop me), may I just say... Man, is that movie boring. You know a movie is bad when shucking peas is more memorable and enjoyable than the movie. Scorsese must've had photos of various Academy members in compromising positions with goats, because how else could this have won multiple Oscars? I was not disappointed to see Marky Mark (call me!) and Matt Damon on screen together, but the script was all over the place, and I just found myself getting annoyed at the film so I focused more on the peas. So let's continue that theme of being focused on peas and talk about the dish.

The Purée of English Pea Soup is easy easy easy, and if you have some time in the next few days, I suggest finding some English peas and making it. Here's the mise en place:

See the small bowl up front with the clear-ish liquid in it? Yeah. That's white truffle oil. Shiver me timbers, I love that stuff.

To get started, I cooked the peas in two batches in a large stock pot of boiling water (with both salt and sugar in the boiling water; that, too, makes a HUGE difference in how great this tastes, trust me), then chilled each batch in an ice bath before puréeing them in the food processor:

Even without any seasoning, I think I could've been really happy just sitting on the sofa with the food processor bowl full of these mushy peas, a spoon, and some bad Facts of Life reruns and been a very happy camper. But I persevered, and completed the dish. Because, please. There was truffle oil to come... AND parmesan crisps (the scent of which made my dog go apeshit with joy).

I transferred the purée to my blender and added some vegetable stock I made and froze a few months ago before I started this project. I'll get to Keller's stocks soon, don't worry. I'm just trying to use up my stash in the freezer before I make new stocks. After blending the puréed peas and stock, I put it in the fridge to chill:

While the soup was chilling, I made the Parmesan Crisps. I made twice as many as I needed because I knew I'd want to munch on some later tonight and tomorrow (if I can resist temptation enough to make them last that long). I've already documented the process of making these here, but because I know you love cheese as much as I do, here's the before and after:

I served the Pea Soup chilled, and stirred in a little bit of white truffle oil right before serving (more of a "mugging" than a "plating" I suppose. Thanks, I'll be here all week. Enjoy the veal. Tip your bartender.).

Here's the finished product:

What a perfect way to welcome spring. This soup is delicious (even though mine was a little too thick), and when I make it again, I'll serve it both ways -- warm and chilled -- so that my dinner guests can have their choice. And, I'd also take a bath in it. Just for the record. The fantastic Michael Ruhlman also recently made some gorgeous pea soup, so go check it out. But come back. I miss you already.

Up Next: Pan-Roasted Maine Jumbo Scallops with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus Purée.

Brands Used:
All-Clad cookware
English Peas from Balducci's
Parmigiano-Reggiano from Whole Foods
Terroirs d'Antan white truffle oil
Cuisinart food processor
Hamilton-Beach blender
Silpat baking sheet liner
Calphalon baking sheet

Music to Cook By: Jenny Owen Youngs; Batten the Hatches.


pdxblogmommy said...

I am SO with you on the truffles. I'd eat truffled anything for the smell of it alone.

This looks right up my alley. I'd be interested to taste it both cold and warm. Certainly looks easy enough. I may give it a try!

And Parm crisps? They don't last long in this house either.

Anonymous said...

Those parm crisps look even better this time around (if that's even possible) and I do love me some cheese porn. Yum! And I'm already anticipating the scallops....*drool*

Anonymous said...

I agree with previous posters. I love this blog and you definately need to cook more often so I don't get the let-down when there isn't a new post up. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous tha tyou found fresh peas. They haven't appeared here (Nebraska) yet; I check every time I go to a market. No one seems to know when we'll get 'em. You're greem with peas; I'm green with envy.

Thanks for 2 posts this week. I love 'em.


Carol Blymire said...

Thanks, everyone. To be honest, I wish I could cook, write and post every single day, but work gets in the way, you know? Things will start to become more manageable toward the middle of May, so I hope to step it up and do at least two posts a week.

Oh, and re: the parmesan crisps? My mom wants me to make them for her when I go to my parents' house on Mother's Day. I think that's a gift I can handle. :)

Anonymous said...

What a lovely green! We are just going into autumn and so no fresh peas for a bit. Regarding the truffle oil, I haven't bought any since we moved here because I don't want to dip into the kids' college fund, but I do miss it so.

Todd McKimmey said...

I've made this soup a few times now (without using the fresh peas, I'm afraid, but it does still taste amazing). I'm curious... how was the texture as you made it?

I followed the recommendation and pushed it through a tamis then through the chinois and it's amazing, but... is there anything harder to clean than a tamis with pea bits all over it?

Freya said...

This is the first time I've come across your blog and I must say that I applaud you efforts working through the french laundry book. Unfortunately, my husband won't because I am definitely going to get myself a copy now!
I love the pea puree too!

Jason A said...

The had fresh peas (not English) at the Farmer's Market this Saturday so I could not resist. I did not use the tamis (don't own one) but I did push the mess through the choinois and it was well worth the effort - like pure luxury. I found a bottle of unopened truffle oil on the shelf (this stuff has a very limited shelf life - even unopened) so I was a little light on the truffle but the smell of the parmesan crisps baking drove everyone in the house mad.

Mike said...

Totally non-food related comment... you should watch the "Infernal Affairs" trilogy. Scorcese completely ripped off from these three chinese movies... literally... there are scenes taken out exactly from these movies, which are tons better.