Hearty Fall Cookery
A thick hearty pea soup is the ultimate comfort food for a blustery fall or winter day. Dressing it up a bit with a floating island of broiled crusty bread rubbed with garlic and freshly grated Parmegiano makes this soup the star of a quick meal that warms, nourishes, and sets you right when the grey skies and wet weather are persuasively dampening your otherwise energetic spirits.
Thick as Fog Pea Soup; 6 hearty servings
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
- 4 leeks, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 cup diced celery stems and leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 7 cups chicken stock or water
- 18oz frozen green peas
- 2 baking potatoes, peeled and diced
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1 cup whole milk (or cream)
Melt the butter over medium low heat in a stock pot and add the onions, leeks, celery, and bay leaves and cook, adjusting the heat to avoid browning and stirring from time to time, until the vegetables are very soft and translucent; about 15 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until the wine is reduced and absorbed into the vegetables. Add the stock (or water), peas , potatoes, cayenne, salt, and pepper and bring to a slow simmer and cook for about 1 hour.
Remove the bay leaves and using a hand held blender (or blender), puree the soup for several minutes until smooth. Add the milk (or cream) and stir in until well combined and continue to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid scorching on the bottom of the pan. Blend for another 2 minutes until the soup is very smooth. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper to taste.
Crusty Floating Island Crostoni
- 6 thickly sliced portions of crusty baguette, cut on the diagonal
- extra virgin olive oil for brushing
- 1 large garlic cloves, peeled
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup grated Parmegiano
Turn on the broiler and move the oven rack to the upper level of the oven. Generously brush each slice of baguette with the olive oil and place under the broiler and broil until nicely toasted, keeping an eye on it as the baguette can brown quickly.
Remove the toasted baguette slices from the oven and rub each piece with the garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top, covering the entire surface of the toasted baguette, with grated Parmegiano. Place back under the broiler and broil just until the cheese has melted and begun to lightly brown; 1-2 minutes
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool while you portion the pea soup into individual bowls.
Float a crusty broiled Parmegiano baguette island in the center of each piping hot serving.
Another favorite alternative topping is stone ground corn tortilla chips, again briefly broiled until the cheese is melted and lightly colored, scooped off the baking tray with a spatula and placed on the surface of the soup. Really delicious for many soups. Try it!