Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fancy Pea Soup (Potage Saint Germain)

A delicious and surprisingly simple dish that is a great first course for a nice dinner or simply as a nice soup during lunch. It is a variation on a very classic French soup called 'Potage Saint Germain', that is made of split peas and other vegetables. This one is simpler, yet the fresh peas and garlic make it every bit as flavorful. I'm using frozen fresh green peas, which in this case works even better than shelled fresh peas because of the shorter cooking time.


1 kg of frozen fine green peas,
1 liter of chicken stock
2 shallots
4 mushrooms
5 large cloves of garlic
5 slices of pancetta or bacon
125ml of whipping cream
Nutmeg, pepper and salt

Please disregard the truffle flavored oil, it was an experiment that did not work!

Start by sweating the finely diced shallots over medium heat.
When the shallots start to turn translucent, add the diced garlic. I'm using 5 big cloves, but you can make it more. Garlic and peas are good friends and boost each others flavor!
After 2-3 minutes, add the thawed peas and the chicken stock. The peas should be barely covered.
Add a little salt, white pepper and nutmeg. I like to cook with a small amount of the spices and add to taste at the end.

Cook the peas for maximum 10-15 minutes until they are tender but still fairly firm and not mushy. You are looking for the shortest possible cooking time as this will keep most flavor and color in the soup. That is why you should thaw the peas because it takes longer for them to cook if you start with the frozen product.
I like to use a stick blender, but if you feel that is risky, you can also do this in small batches in a food processor. Blend until you have a really smooth, velvety texture without any chunks.
Keep the soup warm, but do not let it boil as it will diminish flavor and color.  

Chop your mushrooms in very fine cubes.
In a non-stick pan, toast the mushroom cubes over high heat until all the water has evaporated.

Crisp your bacon on a baking tray in your oven for 20 minutes at 150 degrees Celsius.
Once crisp, drain off fat on some kitchen paper.

Chop bacon and mushrooms to crumb size.

Whisk the cream until soft peaks start to form.
Add soup to a warm plate. Add one tbsp of cream and top with the mushroom and bacon crumbs. Of course you can make some croutons as topping or use some finely diced smoked sausage (rookworst) for a Dutch version. If you want to go real fancy, top with some thinly sliced truffle. I think you will find this is not a waste if you taste the sweetness and delicate earthiness of this soup. 

And remember to leave your comments in the section below -Thanks!.  

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