Pea & Mint Soup with Lemon Crème Fraiche

Soup often finds itself on the appetizer section of every restaurant menu. For once, I think it deserves to be in the spotlight! There’s nothing better than eating a complex, bright and flavorful soup and thinking- how on earth did they make this? When I go out to eat, it’s always an interesting “foodie” challenge to guess all of the flavors that make up one soup.

Some of my favorite summer soups are the most refreshing, like gazpacho and cucumber avocado. There are hundreds of different varieties of soup that are perfect for every season, even for the sweltering New York weather. The best part about making a soup is mixing and matching vegetables, proteins, grains and stocks based on your mood.

With thoughts of sunny vacations, tropical drinks and escaping the city, bust out your blender and make this versatile Pea and Mint Soup with Lemon Crème Fraiche (you can even blend up a drink after!). Peas often get a bad rep, but the bold, lemony crème fraiche is super refreshing against the earthy mint and sweet pea flavors. The best part about this soup? It tastes great both hot and cold! For vegetarians, you can certainly substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock. Interestingly enough, the French truly know how to make flavorful soup using only water! The secret? “sweating” your vegetables, or cooking them with any type of butter or oil over a very low flame for at least 10 minutes. This releases all of the vegetable juice and flavor. If you can’t find crème fraiche in your supermarket, whip up some heavy cream and combine with the lemon juice and zest.

Suggested wine pairing: This summery and herbaceous dry Riesling perfectly echoes the fresh, green notes in this soup.

Pea and Mint Soup with Lemon Crème Fraiche (Adapted from Finecooking.com)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large shallots, minced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
5 cups fresh shelled or frozen peas
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups water
½ cup fresh mint plus 1 tablespoon reserved, roughly chopped
1 medium lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1- 7 ounce container crème fraiche
1 lemon, zest and juice

Directions:
1. In a large stockpot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 3 minutes until soft.
2. Add the chicken stock, water, peas and mint. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until the peas are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender) until smooth.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the crème fraiche, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt to taste.
4. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with a generous spoonful of the lemon cream fraiche. Scatter the remaining chopped mint over the soup and serve. Chill the soup in the refrigerator for an hour if serving cold!