Makes 5 cups - 4 to 6 servings
When we think of "pea soup," we usually think of a slow-cooked soup made with dried split peas and flavored with ham. This version, made with frozen fresh peas, is smoother in texture and fresher in flavor; and it's much quicker to prepare.
For the Parmesan Cream
½ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
For the soup
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 leek (white part only), halved lengthwise, rinsed, and cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups vegetable stock
One 16-ounce bag frozen baby peas
2 carrots, cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 ½ cups milk 2 teaspoons sugar
Dash of nutmeg, preferably freshly grated, or to taste
Salt and ground white pepper to taste
To make the Parmesan Cream, stir together all the cream ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning; set aside.
To make the soup, heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, leek, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the vegetable stock and peas. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam the carrots in a covered steamer over boiling water until tender. Or, put the carrots in a small microwave-proof dish and add about 2 tablespoons water. Cover tightly and microwave on high for about 5 minutes. Drain well and set aside.
In several batches, purée the pea-stock mixture and the milk to a blender until smooth.
Pour the soup into the pan. Stir in the carrots, sugar, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Stir gently over medium heat until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Top each serving with a dollop of Parmesan Cream.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.