I do love me a good pea soup, especially in the Springtime when you can buy peas by the bushel at the farmers market and shell them yourself. By the way, what is a bushel? Can someone tell me? I imagine it as an armful but I could be way off…is it like the size of a bush?
Anyway, some people might shy away from the laborious task of shelling peas, but I quite like it. It’s one of those tedious, repetitive chores, like folding laundry or drying dishes, that allow your hands to take over and your mind to space out and wander freely to far off places.
When it comes to life I like to pile a lot of things on my plate, so I tend to get stressed out easily because my habit is to try to cram too many things into one day. I really need to work on that, but what can I say? I’m a busy bee. I thrive when things are buzzing.
One of the ways I cope with the stress is with yoga and more recently, meditation. A mere 10 minutes first thing in the morning of just sitting there and breathing and clearing my mind can do wonders for the rest of my day. You’d think that I would have learned by now to incorporate this into my daily routine. But the problem is that when there is so much going on (which is when I really need it the most), I either completely forget or worse, I think, I don’t have time to meditate today, I’m way too busy!
Since this happens more often than I’d like to admit, I’ve learned to recognize and appreciate those brief opportunities throughout the day when you can switch off for a minute, breathe, and slow down. Little mini meditation moments. Like when you have to shell a bushel full of peas for a batch of silky pea soup with a ribbon of earthy morel mushroom cream swirled throughout. And then you’ll have to slow down again to savor it, of course.
Pea Soup with Morel Mushroom Cream
- 1/2 oz. dried morel mushrooms
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 medium shallots thinly sliced
- 1 large potato peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tbsp. white wine
- 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 5 cups peas fresh or frozen and thawed
- 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped mint
In a small bowl, cover the dried morels with the hot water to soften them. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Remove the morels and rinse well, reserve the soaking liquid. Set aside some morels for garnish (1-2 per serving) and chop the rest.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the chopped morels and half of the shallots and cook over medium heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 more minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and the reserved morel soaking liquid, but do not include any grit that has settled at the bottom. Boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and simmer on low until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season the morel cream with salt and remove from the heat.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the remaining shallots and cook over moderate heat until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 3 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the peas and chopped mint and simmer until the peas are just tender, which should only take a few minutes. Remove from heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Pass through a mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon or a plastic spatula.
Return the soup to the pot, reheat gently and season with salt and. Cook over moderately high heat until hot, about 1 minute.
Ladle the pea soup into bowls and swirl in the morel cream. Garnish with the whole morels.