April 14, 2015

Spring produce doesn't get much more iconic than the sweet green English pea. "I love to use peas this time of year because they're at the absolute peak of their sweetness," says Tony Chittum, chef of Washington, D.C.'s venerable Iron Gate restaurant.

Chittum plays up the pea's classic status by pairing it in a velvety pureed soup with one of its friendliest partners: fresh mint. From there, he adds flavorful Italian and Greek flourishes. Garlic cloves get a quick blanching to tame their raw heat while still giving the sweet peas a huge flavor boost. The soup is garnished with a drizzle of fruity extra-virgin olive oil, toasted pine nuts, and fragrant fresh dill. A dollop of tangy yogurt completes the dish. "The acidity of the yogurt helps balance the natural sweetness of the green peas," Chittum says. Try his original version at Iron Gate in D.C.'s Dupont Circle this month.

SWEET PEA SOUP WITH YOGURT AND PINE NUTSHands-on: 15 min. Total: 15 min.

We love this dish at room temp, though Chittum serves his version chilled. Frozen green peas can also work: Thaw first in cold water.

3 cups shelled fresh green peas1 cup coarsely chopped pea shoots or baby spinach leaves2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint2 garlic cloves1 cup unsalted chicken stockĀ½ teaspoon kosher salt2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill2 tablespoons plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add peas; cook 15 seconds. Add pea shoots, mint, and garlic; cook 15 seconds. Drain; plunge pea mixture into ice water. Drain well.

2. Combine pea mixture, stock, and salt in a blender; process until very smooth.

3. Combine nuts, oil, and dill in a small bowl. Ladle about 2/3 cup soup into each of 6 shallow bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1 teaspoon yogurt; top with about 2 teaspoons nut mixture.

SERVES 6CALORIES 99; FAT 2.4g (sat 0.3g, mono 0.6g, poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 6g; CARB 14g; FIBER 4g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 2mg; SODIUM 287mg; CALC 33mg

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