Tender, fresh peas are a cause for celebration by gardeners and cooks alike.
Recipe and photos by Olaiya Land
Serves 4 | 50 minutes (+ optional 30 minutes chilling time for cold soup)
2 tablespoons butter
3 scallions, white and green parts sliced into thin rounds
kosher or flaky sea salt
1 cup sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
2 cups shelled English peas (from about 1 1/2 pounds unshelled peas)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 slices pancetta (bacon is a fine substitute)
6 tablespoons crème fraîche
1/2 small apple, cored and julienned
1 tablespoon fresh dill
In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add scallions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the scallions are soft and translucent, but not browned, 2–3 minutes. Add sugar snap peas and sauté for 1 minute. Add shelled peas and sauté until they are almost tender, about 2 minutes.
Add 3 cups of hot water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the shelled peas are just barely cooked through, 1–2 minutes. The trick is to cook this soup as little as possible to preserve the bright green color and fresh flavor of the peas. Transfer the soup to a blender and purée until very smooth. If your blender is on the small side, you might have to do this in batches. Stir in the lemon juice. Salt to taste.
To eat the soup chilled, prepare an ice bath by filling a large mixing bowl 1/3 full of ice, then cover the ice with cold water. Transfer the puréed soup to a metal or glass bowl and place in the ice bath. Stir often until the soup is completely cold. To eat the soup hot, place it back in the stock pot or Dutch oven and warm over medium-low heat just before serving.
Next, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil (this helps the pancetta brown more evenly) then add the pancetta and cook, turning once or twice, until the pancetta is fully cooked and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to cool slightly.
To serve, divide the soup among four bowls and top with a dollop of crème fraîche. Arrange the sliced apple over the crème fraîche. Crumble the pancetta over the top, then sprinkle with dill and a pinch of salt just before serving.