Peas and carrots. The stuff of old-school cafeteria lunch lines, bizarre All That sketches, and Forrest Gump’s propensity for metaphor and simile.
Yes, it may seem like a somewhat tired combination, bordering on the cliché. But hark, what light from yonder window breaks!? It is the east, and peas and carrots are the sun!
I like clichés.
Anyway, these two veggies have a bad rap. Usually serving as the obligatory vegetable side dish, likely from some godawful steam-in-the-microwave frozen food bag, shuffled onto the side of the plate by those too tired to make their veggies palatable (an understandable phenomenon. We’s busy people yo!).
But it’s spring. And these babies deserve a better purpose in life than getting scraped around your plate in various serpentine configurations until the rest of your food is gone and you’re left with a sad pile of lonely grey-green and grey-orange bound for the trash.
Yes, spring peas are in season, which means we’re buying them by the kilogram, shelling them, and freezing them.
It seemed a shame not to use some of them right away. I was craving something light and fresh, and this soup fit the bill perfectly. Both the carrot soup and the pea soup have bright, springtime flavors that, when brought together, would make both Forrest and Jenny proud.
Start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add half of the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until just starting to get golden.
Add the carrots and cook for another few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add 2 cups broth. Bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots are fork tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. And ½ cup milk and the sour cream or other creamy component of choice. Pour the mixture into a blender along with the mint and lemon juice.
Puree until smooth and set aside (add a bit of water if it’s too thick). I transferred it to a small pitcher for easy pouring later.
In your pot, add the pancetta and cook until crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Melt the second tablespoon of butter in the pan and sweat the rest of the onions. Then add your peas. Sautee for a couple minutes and add 3 cups of broth. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer until the peas are just tender, about 3-5 minutes. Puree the pea soup in a clean blender until very smooth. Add a bit of water if it’s too thick.
To achieve the swirl effect, pour both soups into the bowls at the same time, at the same speed. Then take a chopstick or something similar and run it through the soup in a few circular sweeps around the bowl. Garnish with the crispy bacon/pancetta, the basil leaves, and a light drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature. Give up the pancetta and you have a super healthy vegetarian soup.