This Green Pea Soup with fresh basil and smoky sweet candied bacon is the ultimate spring appetizer. Bright and creamy, it’s a great reason to give peas a chance. (I know, I know. That was a serious dad joke, but how can you resist??)
Like all good parents, mine made me eat my vegetables growing up. I don’t remember struggling too much with this rule, except when it came to the most dreaded vegetable of all–the pea. Those tiny green dots gave me fits, and I made sure my parents knew exactly how much they were torturing me with each and every bite. In full dramatics, I would plug my nose and screw up my face, barely mustering a swallow before I came back for air, gasping and begging for mercy.
I’m sure today my parents are laughing triumphantly, because here is their afflicted daughter, writing a food blog, and dedicating an entire recipe to the despised green pea. I can only say I’m sorry, mom and dad. I’ve had a change of heart. It turns out that peas are actually pretty delightful after all.
My change of heart started at G. Michael’s, where I celebrated my birthday last year. I must’ve been feeling particularly adventurous, because for some reason I ordered the pea soup. The bowl placed before me looked quite lovely, although not quite like food. It was a vibrant green, with none of the yellowed hue I seemed to remember from my childhood. After my first bite, I was surprised first off to discover the soup was served cold, and secondly to realize I actually loved it.
Since that night, I’ve had pea soup on the brain. I’ve waited nearly a year for spring to roll around again and give me an excuse to make it. When it came to recreating the recipe, I knew I wanted something with minimal ingredients, allowing the bright sweetness of the peas to be the star. I found a recipe at The New York Times entitled Possibly The Best Pea Soup and decided that would be a good place to start.
When it comes to simplicity, this recipe rules the day. With nothing but shallots, garlic, water, peas, and a bit of basil, this soup is light, silky, and the essence of spring. A little cream stirred in at the end gives it just a touch of richness. I used frozen peas, because fresh aren’t readily available in our area just yet, and also because I’m lazy and opening up a bag of frozen peas is about as easy as it gets.
On it’s own this pea soup is delightful, but what truly puts it over the top is a crumble of candied bacon, which melts into the soup, giving it a hint of maple and just the right amount of savory crunch. I’ve included the recipe for a whole pound of candied bacon. You likely won’t need all of that for the soup, but I trust you’ll have no issues polishing off the leftovers (stacking it on this Strawberry Bacon Goat Cheese Grilled Cheese seems like a very viable option).
Just like the soup that started it all, this one can be served hot or cold, though I prefer it hot. I ate it for lunch three days in a row. It pairs beautifully with a grilled cheese or a slice of buttered homemade Amish White Bread. While pea soup can certainly make for a week’s worth of delightful lunches, it’s also a lovely appetizer to serve before your Easter dinner. If you’re serving this up for a special occasion, swirling the cream on top and giving it a sprinkle of chives makes it look absolutely beautiful. So beautiful that you might even be able to convince the pea-haters in your life to give it a try.
For the bacon:
For the bacon:
For the soup:
Recipe adapted from The New York Times