Here is a quick and practical pea soup recipe known as potage Sain Germain that uses frozen green peas. My family is always resisting peas for some reason, but they lapped this up without a backwards glance.
Preparing leeks requires special attention. You'll find instructions for cleaning them in the pea soup recipe below. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly, because they can hide invisible bits of sand that will later show up as grit in your food. Most likely harmless, but nonetheless a bit disagreeable.
I used dried thyme in the recipe but you can also use fresh tarragon or mint to flavor the potage a little differently.
If you are using frozen peas to prepare this soup, just go ahead and add them to the pot while they are still frozen. They'll defrost as the pea soup recipe is cooking.
The cream that is stirred in at the end of this pea soup recipe is completely optional. You might want to skip it and substitute a dollop of yogurt on top of the soup just before serving.
Prepare the leeks by cutting off any tough green tops and the root ends. Slit the leek vertically through the green end and down an inch or two into the white end. Clean under running water, fanning the layers to get all the dirt and sand out. Slice the leeks into thin rounds.
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or similar sturdy pot on medium heat. Add the leeks, chopped onion, sliced carrots, pressed garlic and bacon. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes. Stir in the thyme and pepper and then the peas. Stir to coat the peas and mix everything evenly.
Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down so the pot is just simmering and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until all the vegetables are quite tender. Let soup cool a little before processing in blender.
Working in small batches, process the soup in a blender until it is smooth, pouring the blended soup into a different pot as you go. Stir in the heavy cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, and return soup to heat to warm through.
To serve you can drizzle a little cream in a pretty pattern on top of the soup or try it with croutons.
Called potage Saint Germain in France, this pea soup is often made with split peas. The term Saint Germain is also used with other recipes and indicates that a dish contains peas, or petits pois. The origin of this term in cooking is obscure because there are 20 or so saints with this name, and dozens of towns as well.
In France, a potage usually refers to a soup that is blended to form a smooth puree before serving. Some of the other potages and terms used to name recipes are:
Potage Argenteuil - Asparagus soup
Potage Conti - Lentil soup
Potage Crecy - Carrot soup
Potage Dubarry - Cauliflower soup
Potage Florentine - Spinach soup
Potage Forestière - Mushroom soup
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