I know, I know: Pea soup is the metaphor for thick fog. But that's not this soup. This soup is a metaphor for walking into the garden early on a July morning when the tomato plants are starry with yellow blooms and the poppies are lively in the breeze and the pea pods look like stained glass in the sunlight. This pea soup is summer in a steaming cup...or a chilled glass.
Shouldn't pea soup taste as sweet as the peas we eat off the vine when we're standing among the vines?
With gratitude to Deborah Madison (again!), because she can do no wrong with a vegetable, here is what you need (and if you're as lucky as we were, it will all be growing in your kitchen garden):
Fresh-off-the-vine shelling peas, a pound plus
Tender new leeks, about six
A handful of parsley, stems and leaves
A dash of sugar
A dab of butter
As you shell the peas, put the peas into a bowl and the pods into a few quarts of water on strong heat. (Using more or less peas will make the soup more or less thick, but it will be delicious either way.) Add some chopped leek (two or three). Add some whole stems of parsley and a nice half-teaspoon of salt. Once it boils, turn down the flame and let the broth simmer for twenty minutes or so.
Meanwhile, chop the remaining leeks (enough to make a half-cup).
Melt the butter in a soup pot, then add the chopped leeks. Let it sizzle for a minute, then add a ladle of the broth. Cook until the leek is soft. Add in the peas, sugar, salt to taste, and a grinding of pepper (if, like us, you're not fussy about black flecks in your soup). Strain two-and-a-half cups of the simmering broth into the soup pot. In about three minutes, the peas should be bright green and cooked.
Use an immersion blender to zip it until it is smooth to the point of ethereal (or not, if you can't wait).
Serve steaming. Or chill the soup for a truly refreshing sipping experience.
If the children in your life are anything like ours, they will slurp it.
Last week, a friend took one taste and said, "If I were dead, this would bring me back to life." Yeah, me too. Maybe that's because the peas don't have the life cooked out of them; they still taste as if they are alive and growing toward the sun.