I haven’t had a proper ham in the house in a long time. You know the kind: A party ham that begins with so much promise, pineapples draping from its hefty frame, and when it finally spindles its way down to a single, lonely bone, the last bits of ham clinging to it for dear life near the back of the fridge.
My father used to relish this lonely ham bone — it was the central item in his pea soup ritual. That bone would spend hours gurgling in a pot on the stove, surrounded by a mixture of onions, carrots, spices, and then peas until it became a soup that he could be proud of.
So when I opened the Farm Fresh mailbox today to find a recipe for pea soup from Sprout chef Jeff Sills, I was sent right back to my dad’s kitchen and his gurgling pot. Truth is, Sills’s recipe is for a more refined version of my father’s depression-era-inspired concoction. In fact, if dad were still around and I told him we were going to Sprout for chilled English pea soup with lemon curd, he might even find something a bit derisive to say about it.
Maybe I’ll have to hike over to Sprout and give it a try and see how the experience stacks up, especially now, with spring in the air. Or perhaps I’ll try making it — even without a ham bone — Sills was nice enough to share the recipe:
Chilled English Pea Soup
Jeff Sills, Sprout
Prep time: twenty minutes, plus overnight chilling time
1 pt pea shoots
1 pt pea tendrils
½ c basil leaves
½ c mint leaves
½ c grapeseed oil
½ t citric acid*
1–2 T sugar
1 T salt
1 t white pepper
1 c Half and Half
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and submerge pea shoots, tendrils, basil and mint for ten seconds until bright green. Remove and immediately place into ice water to chill. Drain on a paper towel.
2. Place in blender and blend on high speed, gradually incorporating the grapeseed oil. Add the citric acid, sugar, salt and pepper and continue blending until smooth; add chilled half and half. Season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper.
*citric acid can be found at specialty spice stores; you may substitute lemon juice if not available
Lemon Curd (this makes more than you will need; reserve excess for other use)
1/2 c lemon juice
3 egg yolks
½ c sugar
½ lb butter
1. Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl and gradually heat over a water bath. Whisk constantly until mixture becomes very thick (approximately 180 degrees F).
2. Immediately remove from heat and continue whisking, slowly adding the butter about a tablespoon at a time until the butter is completely incorporated. Chill overnight.
La Quercia Speck
Purple Haze Goat Cheese
Radishes – thinly sliced
Place 2T lemon curd on the bottom of each bowl, garnishing with 1/8 c peas, two thin slices Speck, 2T each of crème fraiche and goat cheese, 3 pea tendrils, 4 radish slices and 2 mint leaves. Pour soup over and serve immediately.
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