The peak season for English peas is short, says Jacques Qualin, chef de cuisine of The Phoenician’s J&G Steakhouse. “At the beginning of spring, the peas are really tender and sweet.” So, once in a while – not every year – Qualin puts sweet pea soup on the menu for about 6 to 8 weeks to take advantage of the season.
Qualin likes this dish because it’s fragrant and fresh and “you get so much flavor from the peas,” he says. “It’s full of flavor, but it’s so simple.”
For those who want to try the recipe at home, but don’t have a whipped cream charger, you can buy one at Sur La Table and other kitchen stores. Check out your local farmers’ market to find fresh English peas.
Sweet Pea Soup with Parmesan Foam
2 cups onions, small dice
1 tbsp. garlic, sliced thin
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. salt
1 ½ quarts water
1 ½ lbs. fresh sweet peas, blanched in salt water (1 ½ tsp. salt)
In a rondeau pan (or sauce pan), combine oil, onions, garlic and salt and sweat covered until totally soft. Add the water and bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute, and then cool over ice until very cold. In a blender, puree until totally smooth with blanched peas.
½ qt. heavy cream
6 oz. Parmesan, shredded finely in food processor
1 Thai chili, split
½ bunch thyme, tied with a string
2 tsp. salt
Combine all in a pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and then let steep for 15 minutes. Remove thyme, then puree cream in a blender until smooth. Pass through a chinois (fine strainer), season with salt and load into whipped cream charger with 2 N2O cartridges. If cold, warm until just above body temperature before loading. Must be served warm.
Sliced sourdough bread
Cut bread into ½ inch dice and sauté in olive oil. Season immediately with salt.
Put a generous spoonful of croutons in the center of a warm bowl and cover the surface of the bowl with the Parmesan foam. Heat the soup and aerate. Pour into bowl.
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