When tender peas are in season, you won’t find a lighter or more satisfying dish than this vibrant pea soup. Topped with sweet briny scallops and a dollop of sour cream, this verdant soup is a springtime favourite.
Soup doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. I don’t bother with garlic or onion because they take away from the natural sweetness of the peas. Thinned with a light chicken stock (or water for pea purists), this soup is lightly seasoned with only a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of kosher salt.
Anyone who’s enjoyed shelled peas straight off the vine knows they’re best when freshly picked. The peas’ sugars convert to complex starches quickly—within minutes of being picked—so buy local and cook them straight-away before they turn disappointedly mealy. And, be sure to keep them in their pod until you’re ready to cook them.
Makes 4 Cups
■ 4 cups shelled sweet peas, about 2 pounds with pods
■ 2 cups chicken stock, preferrably homemade, or water
■ Kosher salt
■ 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
■ 6 -8 scallops, about 6 ounces
■ 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
■ 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
■ 2 Tbsp sour cream or plain Greek style yogurt
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Blanch the shelled peas in boiling water 2-3 minutes until just tender. Remove the peas with a slotted spatula or small strainer and plunge into the ice water without delay.
Drain the peas and transfer to a food processor. Add the stock (or water) 1 tsp kosher salt and lemon juice. Purée until smooth.
Pour the puréed soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean saucepan, pressing the solids against the strainer with a ladle or spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the pulp.
Reheat the soup. You may have to adjust the soup’s consistency—if too thick, add additional stock; if too thin, simmer until reduced and thickened.
Taste and season with additional salt or lemon juice if desired. Keep warm while cooking the scallops.
Bring the scallops to room temperature, pat dry with a paper towel and season both sides with a pinch kosher salt. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan until shimmering but not smoking. Add the scallops, leaving room between each (if they're crowded they'll steam instead of sear.) Cook until browned on one side. Turn the scallops over, add the butter, cover the pan and turn off the heat. Check the scallops after 2-3 minutes. Test one scallop with the tip of a knife; it should be opaque. If not, continue cooking for a minute or two. Pour the pan juices into the pea soup and stir to combine.
Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Add a swirl of sour cream or yogurt if desired and top with seared scallops.
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