What better way to end a warm summer day than with a chilled pea soup apéritif? This recipe was borrowed from Melissa Clark's, Dinner in French, and includes just a few modifications. Potage St. Germain (pea soup) was named after the Count of Saint Germain, minister of war under Louis XIV, who loved split peas and would always ask to have soup made with them. You can serve the soup hot on a spring evening or cold (which I prefer!) on a warm summer day. Ready? Let's begin!
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
1 large leek (white and green parts only, cleaned) diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large head of Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
3 cups of frozen peas (or fresh peas!)
2 cups of veggie/chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper
2 heaping teaspoons of sea salt
1 tablespoon of chopped basil leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of fresh ricotta
Zest of 1 lemon
To begin, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the diced leak and cook and it is soft and translucent (about 6 minutes). Stir in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Stir in the chopped Romaine lettuce and sauté until the leaves are wilted, about 6 minutes.
3. Stir in the peas, stock, 1 cup of water, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 heaping teaspoons of salt and the pepper, and bring it to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the peas are soft, about 3-5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to scoop about 1/2 cup of peas out of the stock and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside either in the fridge or the counter until you are ready to use.
4. Add the basil and cream to the pot and puree the mixture until smooth, either using an immersion blender or standard blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
5. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, lemon zest and salt together. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to use.
6. To serve, ladle into bowls, put a dollop of the lemony ricotta on top, then add a spoon of the peas along with a sprinkling of chopped basil or mint. Chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving. Bon appétit!