Sunday, April 5, 2009

FROM THE MENU: Spring Pea, Chilie, Mint & Cured Pork Soup

Yet another example of my current obsession with a new holy trinity: thick red onions, loads of garlic and intrepid chiles de arbol. I mean, what wouldn’t be exalted in this audacious foundation? Spring pea soups are mostly done in the cheerful bright creamy mode, and I’ve dallied in these myself. But more and more I feel abidingly loyal to the thing/things I’m working with themselves. I don’t want to manhandle them. So this soup has true texture; isn’t a technicolor blitz. The green in it mellows with cooking, as green things do - and its usual sweetness is deepened with the savor of alliums and the smoke and pepper of chiles and cured meat. Even elegant mint gets to parade its brute side.

Spring Pea, Chile, Mint & Cured Pork Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 oz. pancetta, smoked bacon, guanciale or prosciutto, whatever you prefer or have around, cut into 1/4-inch thick lardons

2 red onions, cut in half lengthwise and sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips

6 to 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 to 4 medium chiles de arbol, depending on your heat obsession, seeded and crumbled

3 # fresh peas, shelled

1/2 # snap peas, cut lengthwise on the diagonal

1/2 # waxy fingerling potatoes, skin on, cut into 1/4-inch rounds

1 small bunch mint, picked and cut roughly into chiffonade

4 cups of chicken stock, preferably homemade

Sugar, optional

Virgin olive oil to finish

In a large, lined pot big enough to hold the soup heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add your pork of choice and sauté until rendered and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add onions and a good pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, chiles and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the peas, snap peas, potatoes and 1/3 cup of the mint and cook another 5 minutes. Cover with stock by about 1-inch (add water if necessary), and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer about 20 minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Scoop out about 1-1/2 cups of the soup’s vegetables and meat along with a bit of the broth and carefully blitz in a blender or food processor to a rough purée. Add a little more of the soup’s broth if necessary. Stir this back into the soup. Taste for seasoning. Some peas are less sweet than others, so add a pinch or two of sugar if needed. Serve in warm soup bowls with a drizzle of virgin oil and some of the chopped mint.

1 comment:

Swimming Deer said...

I had this last night for my b-day and it was wonderful- thank you so much!