English Pea Soup with Braised Leeks and Morel Mushrooms
...floating on a homemade ciabatta crouton island ;)
The English Pea Soup is a favorite -- the recipe comes from Jean-Georges Vongerichten from his book "Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef" -- the soup base is made from our veg stock combined with the shucked pea pods as an additional flavor enhancer which does a great job of infusing the soup with that essence of springtime.
In a large saucepan on medium heat, add 2 tbs. of Earth Balance along with 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped leek, 3 chopped garlic cloves, a pinch of thyme, salt and pepper and cook together for 2-3 minutes. Add the pea pods, then add 4 cups of stock, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the broth and return to the saucepan.
The 3 cups of peas were blanched in salted water 4-5 minutes and drained -- save about 1/2 cup of peas for the garnish and run them under cold water for a minute. Put the rest of the peas in the vita-mix with 2 tbs. of Earth Balance, a pinch of salt and 2-3 tbs. of cooking liquid and puree.
Whisk the pea puree is back into the broth, bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes to combine. Check for seasoning, and serve.
Accompanying the soup were (local) morel mushrooms, cut into rings and pan-fried with some olive oil, salt & pepper.
Also on the island were another favorite, braised leeks.
1 tbs. soy margarine
salt and pepper
First, trim the tops and bottom of the leeks, using as much of the white/light green parts as you like (the leftover bits are fantastic in making stock). Clean them by soaking in water and make sure you get the hidden dirt that likes to hide near the tops. You may need to lose a layer or two on the outside of the leeks to accomplish that. Cut the leek into roughly 3-inch sections.
Place the leeks in a small saute pan and add the water until it reaches halfway up the side of the leeks. Add the 1 tbs. of soy margarine, and bring to a boil. Cover loosely with the lid and continue to cook over medium heat until the water has just about evaporated.
Turn off heat, remove the leeks and place in an oven-proof gratin dish. Pour the remaining liquid out of the saute pan into the oven-proof dish. Season with salt and pepper and place into a 350F oven for 15-20 minutes until the leeks begin to caramelize. Serve hot.