How to Eat Our Peas
Last week President Obama told us that we have to “eat our peas.” Of course, he was speaking metaphorically about the need to reach a deal on the debt ceiling. And his reference to peas kind of made it seem as if peas weren’t such a favorite and that eating them was more of a have-to than a want-to.
I always thought everyone liked peas. Growing up it was right up there with carrots, corn and green beans that we ate every week. And so did my friends. Most of the moms I knew, including my own bought boxes of frozen peas and carrots that were cut up into tiny dice, so we got a little of each at dinner and it was nice and colorful.
But during the summer my mother bought fresh peas and my brothers and I helped shuck them because after we opened the pod and spilled the peas into a bowl we would chew on the pods, which were pleasantly crunchy and we loved when the grassy tasting juices spurted into our mouths.
Those fresh peas were awesome. Yes, even kids ate them. My mother would simmer them, drain them and then roll them in a little melted butter. If you ever want your kids to eat their peas, or try any vegetable, this is definitely one way that might work.
But if you don’t love peas straight out, maybe you’d like this recipe for Cold Summer Pea Soup. It’s a riff on the thick and steamy winter Dutch pea soup but uses fresh peas instead of dried. You can make it with pancetta or bacon and even vegetarian soy bacon if you’re kosher or vegetarian. The vague smoky flavor is reminiscent of the hot winter version. But you can also leave the bacon out and serve it garnished with chopped chives.
Cold Summer Pea Soup
4 ounces soy bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large Yukon Gold or all-purpose potato, peeled and chopped
6 cups vegetable stock
6 cups shelled peas (or use 3 10-ounce packages thawed frozen peas)
3/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
sat and freshly ground black pepper to taste
plain yogurt or dairy sour cream
Fry the soy bacon) in a soup pot for a few minutes over medium heat until crispy. Remove the pieces, crumble them and set them aside. Pour the olive oil into the pan. Add the onion and potato and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, bring to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the peas and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the cover. Let the soup cool. Puree the soup in a blender or with a hand blender. Whisk in the yogurt or buttermilk. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a blob of yogurt or sour cream. Garnish with the crumbled bacon. Makes 6 servings