Monday, February 09, 2009

Creamy Sweet Pea & Herb Soup


Want a hot bowl of creamy, hearty soup without too many creamy, hearty calories? Then you will appreciate this EASY sweet pea soup. For me, comfort food isn't all that comforting when I know that ever bite is loaded with calories and saturated fat. This soup on the other hand, is flavored with fresh herbs and blended with Russet potatoes for that creamy, mouth-filling texture you want.

Lately, I've been enjoying a robust work flow (can you taste the euphemism in that statement?). And times like this require simple and satisfying dishes. Last winter, I made a lot of creamy, blended soups (scroll to the end for links), but I haven't done it nearly enough this year. And why not? It's so easy and this one in particular is a cinch thanks to super-convenient frozen peas.

I seared a slice of cooked ham and added it to the soup for a meaty element. You can add bacon, pancetta or even chicken to this soup. Of course, you can also keep it vegetarian. Sour cream or yogurt is a nice finishing touch, but you could also opt for some flavorful grated cheese, like Parmigiano or Gruyere...mmm.

So, eat this healthy soup this week so you can indulge in something special this weekend. You know Valentine's Day is coming up, right? Do you already have something planned? If you're the type who plans their meal or dessert before anything else, share it in the comments section!

Creamy Sweet Pea & Herb Soup with Ham
The mellow garden-fresh taste of peas contribute the main flavor here, so I used a lot of fresh and dried herbs to perk it up. Add any combination you like, but I particularly love mint with peas.

Serves 4

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried ginger
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 3/4 lbs. Russet potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 thick slice cooked ham
1 (1-lb.) bag frozen peas
1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
2 tsp. chopped fresh chives
Sour cream, plain yogurt or creme fraiche, for serving

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add the broth and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender.

Cook the ham in a skillet over medium heat until heated through and lightly browned. Chop into small pieces.

When potatoes are tender, add the peas to the saucepan and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender. You can also use a regular blender, working in batches. Stir in the ham and about two-thirds of the mint and chives. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Ladle into bowls and garnish with sour cream and remaining herbs.

More Healthy, Creamy Soups

Creamy Eggplant-Lentil Soup
Carrot Curry Soup
Creamy Fava Bean Soup with Mint

12 comments:

Chris said...

This might sound weird, but my favorite thing about pea soup is how well it goes with a hunk of almost-too-crusty bread! Do you have any vegetarian suggestions for a ham replacement? Maybe cubes of tofu or paneer?

Julie said...

Chris: Paneer sounds great...anything you like.If you eat eggs, a chopped hardboiled egg sprinkled on top would look and taste great. Or just have grilled cheese on the side.

Mark Scarbrough said...

Gorgeous. And just what we all need right now. I am about filled to the tip with ham right now--and yet I want more.

Mo said...

This looks delicious. I'm usually not a big fan of soups, but we've had some chilly weather for AZ and it's put me in the mood for something just like this.

BTW, I posted about your Roasted Fennel and Orange from Shape, on my blog. It was great!

Matt's Kitchen said...

Pea soup was a childhood favorite of mine, but my mom never wrote down her recipe, and I've never tried to make it myself. I know she used a hambone in there somewhere, but this recipe does look easy and delicious. I like the idea of the addition of ginger, thyme, and rosemary.

I am one of those people who likes to plan dinner before anything else. I can't plan a week's menus in advance because I usually make what seems good for that day, but for years on end I used to have to know what I was making for dinner before the morning was over. Now I'm a lot more flexible.

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

A great looking classic soup!

Katrina said...

That soup looks delicious! Split Pea is one of my favorites.
Having a giveaway on my blog, come on by if you get a sec.

Matt's Kitchen said...

Julie,
I just heard your interview on NPR (regarding Meyer lemons. Very cool! I think it's so exciting that you are branching out. Congratulations! (I hope you don't mind, but I'm adding the link for people to follow to the story.)

If anyone wants to hear it, check it out at:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100778147&ps=bb3

Julie said...

Thanks, Matt! Regarding, your earlier comment about your mom's pea soup, it sounds a little like split pea soup to me--that's usually made with a ham bone. For anyone who's saying, "what's the difference?" split peas are dried and look kind of like lentils. They provide a more substantial texture; the soup in this post is made with fresh (albeit frozen) peas. I do have a split recipe for you though:
http://www.aminglingoftastes.com/2007/12/golden-split-pea-soup-with-leftover-ham.html

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Dale said...

Thanks for sharing that recipe. Eating such food can help you stay healthy always.

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Jennifer Adams said...

I love this recipe. So healthy, if you can resist dousing it with salt. If I could just share a sin care website about how to tighten skin. Thank you.