This very simple, vegan and gluten-free soup is inspired by mushy peas, the popular English side dish of mint and green peas smashed together. In soup form, the cheery bright green color is early summer in a bowl. The sweetness of the peas is brought out by the refreshing mint and a hint of lemon zest. Serve with a crunchy garden salad and a hunk of your favorite bread, smeared with goat cheese or this raw, vegan goat cheese.
Green peas are kind of an underrated wonder-food. One cup of green peas is worth nearly a full day’s supply of Vitamin C, along with a hefty dose of Vitamin K, of fiber (one cup packs 30% of your daily fiber needs), and a host of other vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. On top of all this, they are a good source of protein and very low in calories. Containing both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities, green peas have been linked to reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and some stomach cancers.
Although this recipe is best with fresh green peas from the garden or farmer’s market, frozen peas will do in a pinch.
You need: a two-cup measure and measuring spoons, a vegetable peeler or microplane grater, a medium-sized soup pan, a cutting board and chopping knife, a stirring spoon and an immersion blender or regular blender.
2 tsp. coconut oil (can substitute olive oil)
1 cup chopped onion (1 smallish onion)
2 cups reduced-salt veggie stock (*or make your own)
1 ½ cup sweet peas (1/2 pint)
1 cup chopped, peeled red potato (1 smallish-medium sized potato)
¼ cup torn-up mint leaves, plus a few more reserved for optional chiffonade (see below)
1 tsp. lemon zest (zest from about half of a medium-sized lemon) (see below)
½ tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
Heat the oil in the soup pan and add the chopped onions. Sauté the onions in the oil until they’re translucent, about five minutes.
Add the veggie stock, the potatoes, and the peas to the pan and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the salt, mint, and stir.
Using either an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend the soup until it’s smooth.
If necessary, return the soup to the soup pan to reheat. Stir in the lemon zest, and add pepper to taste. Garnish with a fresh mint chiffonade, if you like a little added fanciness. Voila!
How to Make Lemon Zest with a Vegetable Peeler
Fresh lemon zest adds a dash of brightness to many dishes. To zest a lemon with a vegetable peeler, thoroughly wash the lemon skin, and pat it dry. Carefully rub the peeler over the skin, removing only the outer layer of skin, but leaving the pith (the bitter white part) behind. The skin should come off in little strips. Dice the strips into a tiny mince to make lemon zest. Another way to make lemon zest is with a microplane grater. The grate scrapes the zest right off of the lemon and it’s good to go.
How to Make a Chiffonade
A chiffonade is a puff of delicate ribbons of fresh, leafy herbs. Basil and mint lend themselves particularly well to the chiffonade treatment. To make a chiffonade, stack a few similarly sized leaves on top of each other. Roll the leaves up lengthwise, like a little cigar, and slice it crosswise into little strips. When you’re done, fluff it up with your fingers. A chiffonade is a fancy garnish for soups, stews, or pastas.
*Make Your Own Veggie Stock
When prepping fresh veggies, it’s a great and economical idea to plan ahead and wash the outer skins of the veggies, so you can save the stalks, ends, and scrapings for your own D.I.Y. veggie stock. Good scrapings include carrot skins and stalks, celery, onion skins and ends, garlic skins, tomatoes, potato skins, leek roots and tough dark ends, kale spines, apples, parsnips, fennel, mushrooms, and bits of herbs. Bad stock veggies, which have too strong of a flavor and will overpower stock, include broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, asparagus, turnips, rutabaga, and beets. We put our scraps in a gallon-sized air-tight freezer bag that we keep in the freezer, adding to it until it’s full. Simmer all the veggie scraps in a large soup pan of water until they’ve rendered all of their veggie goodness – about an hour or two. Then use a cheesecloth lined colander (or just a fine-mesh colander if you don’t have any cheesecloth) to drain liquid into a large bowl or measuring cup, and let it cool. Once it cools, pour it into freezable storage containers, pop them into the freezer, and you’re good to go with yummy veggie stock that adds layers of flavor to all of your favorite soups, sauces, and rice dishes. Once frozen, veggie stock generally lasts several months.