Spring is one of those magical transitions in the year where the mornings are still cool, the afternoons are warm, and there is an underlying current of possibility in the air. Everywhere you turn, trees are flowering. You can drive around town with the windows down. And, the heaviness of winter seems to be melting away.
Well, this is true if you live in Northern CA right now. My sister in Cleveland just sent me pictures of her out ice fishing a few days ago, and her March looks nothing like mine.
The good news is that my latest batch of fresh pea soup with ham can be enjoyed anywhere--whether your spring is already in full bloom, or just waiting to blossom around the corner.
Because the heat of summer hasn't quite kicked in, soups still seem like a very appropriate dinner choice. And, if you work long days like me, quick prep time for dinner is an added bonus. I mean, seriously, three simple steps and you're ready to roll.
I first made this dish after a very full day. I worked from 6 am to 3 pm, then headed straight to the golf course to squeeze in 9-holes of golf before hosting my mother in law for dinner. All seemed to be going well, until I got back to the car and realized I had locked my keys inside. (what a rookie move that really hasn't been done since college). After waiting the 20 minutes for AAA to arrive (enjoying a magnificent sunset from Upper Bidwell Park in the meantime), I made it home in time to whip up some Gruyere biscuits and this soup. Felt like an exhilarating, and fulfilling way, to end the day!
So whether you a bit rushed to get some food on the table, like I was last Wednesday, or you have a leisurely evening to get dinner ready, this soup will be a hit (and, I'll add a post soon for the biscuits, too).
Split Pea Soup with Arugula + Ham
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 small fennel bulb—thick stalk discarded, bulb thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1 quart full fat coconut milk (or whole milk, if you choose)
- 4 cups fresh or frozen peas (1 pound), thawed
- 1/2 cup diced smoked ham hock (from one 11-ounce ham hock) or smoky ham
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
- Pea tendrils or baby arugula, for garnish
1. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the fennel, onion and garlic and season with salt. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are tender but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the milk and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the peas and simmer until tender, 7 to 8 minutes.
2. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Strain it through a fine sieve set over a large bowl. Season with salt.
3. In a small bowl, combine the ham with the shallot, chives, olive oil and sherry vinegar. Spoon the ham salad into the center of 4 bowls. Ladle the warm soup into the bowls, garnish with the pea tendrils and serve immediately.