Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cafe Boulud's Chilled Fresh Pea Soup

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About six years ago, I had an operation in New York and had to stay four weeks recovering before they would let me fly home. That's the bad news..the good news is I convalesced at a hotel apartment on Madison called the Surrey, right next to Cafe Boulud. Guess where room service came from? It was fun for a while, but after a few meals, you really felt like some good old fashioned home cooking for a change!

One of the things I never tired of was their green pea soup which was on the menu every day, night and day. Years later, when I bought the Cafe Boulud Cookbook, it mentioned that in Spring, this soup was always on the menu. Check! My stay was during April and May, a wonderful time to be in New York, even if you are sick.

Daniel Boulud’s deliciously light and clean-tasting soup is a mix of sweet peas, favas, pea shoots, snap peas and snow peas. I have skipped the labor-intensive fresh favas, as well as the pea shoots. Instead, just use sugar snaps, snow, and fresh peas or frozen baby peas. The result is just as good! I also sometimes use mint instead of rosemary. Peas and mint are a fantastic combination and this surely is the time for it.


8 slices of bacon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Two 4-inch rosemary sprigs (or mint if you are substituting)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
1/2 pound snow peas
1 lbs of fresh peas or 2 10-ounce boxes frozen baby peas
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, minced

Fresh Mint for decorating


In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate. Pour off the fat in the pot.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the celery, onion and leek and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, 4 slices of the cooked bacon, 1 rosemary sprig and a pinch each of salt and white pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the bacon and rosemary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the sugar snaps and cook for 3 minutes. Add the frozen baby peas or fresh peas and the parsley and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute; drain. Add the sugar snaps, baby peas and parsley to the blender and puree until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the broth to loosen the mixture. Transfer the soup and the remaining broth to a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water to cool.

In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream, garlic and remaining rosemary sprig (or mint) to a boil. Simmer over low heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Strain the garlic cream into a bowl and let cool.

Ladle the chilled pea soup into bowls and drizzle with the garlic cream. Crumble the remaining 4 slices of bacon into each bowl and serve.

You can make ahead... the soup and cream can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days

Photo Credit: Quentin Bacon for Food and Wine


  1. Pea is my all-time favorite soup, but I am a split - pea man.

    I like mine thick and piping hot with meat flavor.

    I assume yours is not as heavy as the common split pea variety?

  2. Nope, this is a Spring soup, light, cold and delish! Actually im making my split pea soup this week from the Easter ham leftovers, thanks for reminding me!


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