Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pea Soup with Crispy Prosciutto & Shallots

When we ate recently at Blue Hill, Chris started his dinner with a delicious bowl of chilled pea soup. The presentation was dramatic: in the middle of the bowl was a pile of peas and bacon, to which the server added then added the cold pea broth. The flavors were so intense: both the peas and the bacon.

For this soup, I wanted something similar. In the winter, split pea soup is perfect, but in the summer the taste of fresh peas feels more appropriate--truly fresh just shelled if you can find them but frozen will work too. Although I pureed most of the peas, I reserved a few and added them at the end to make the texture more interesting. The crispy shallots and prosciutto add a bit of crunch too.

I served this soup warm, but it would be good cold too.

Pea Soup with Crispy Prosciutto & Shallots

2 16-oz. packages frozen peas (may substitute 2 lb. fresh shelled peas, if available--note that's 2 lbs. after shelling)
3 oz. prosciutto
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
3 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

1. Set aside 1 cup of the frozen peas.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment. Lay the prosciutto slices on the baking sheet, making sure not to overlap them. Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes until they render some fat and get crispy. Watch to make sure they don't burn. Set aside on paper towels to cool then chop into thin strips.

3. Heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 4-6 minutes (it may take longer--watch carefully to prevent burning). Transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined plate.

4. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven, deep-sided sauté pan or other large soup pot. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and sauté until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the peas (except the reserved 1 cup), broth and tarragon. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until the peas are tender. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the reserved 1 cup of peas and turn off the heat. Serve warm or cold in shallow bowls topped with crispy shallots and prosciutto strips.

1 comment:

  1. I've always loved peas and never understood why so many kids turn up their nose at them. This was a great soup. Thanks for making it!