Spring pea soup with diced feta and tarragon

Mass Appeal

This spring pea soup is a real crowd-pleaser, but it’s the simple garnishes that truly make this dish a stand out! 

Cooking teacher & cookbook author Betty Rosbottom joins us with the recipe. 

Spring Pea Soup with Diced Feta and Tarragon

Fresh and shelled green peas make their appearance in many groceries during the spring and are the star of this simple soup. Sautéed leeks and tarragon make fine partners to the peas, which are simmered for a few minutes in stock, and then pureed. Some half-and- half adds a smooth finishing touch. It is the simple garnishes, though, that truly distinguish this dish. Finely diced feta (cut from a block of this cheese), small sautéed bread croutons, and chopped tarragon all float atop this creamy celadon- hued soup.


1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)
1 medium potato (8 oz) such as Yukon Gold, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups shelled fresh peas or 2 cups (12 oz) frozen peas, defrosted (See note.)
4 cups chicken stock plus extra if needed
3 tsp dried tarragon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half-and-half

Garnishes
2 cups bread cubes (1/4 to 1/2 dice) made from a good-quality baguette or peasant loaf with crusts removed
3 tbsp olive oil 
4 to 5-oz piece of firm feta, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tsps chopped fresh tarragon 
 

1. Heat oil in a medium-sized pot over medium high heat. When hot, add leeks and sauté, stirring until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. (Do not let them brown).  Add potatoes, peas, dried tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Then add chicken stock. Bring mixture to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove from heat, and puree mixture in a food processor or blender. (Or, puree mixture in the pot with an immersion blender.)  Return mixture to pot over low heat and stir in half and half. Taste and season with more salt (depending on the stock used, you may need to add up to 1 /2 teaspoon extra salt) and pepper. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead to this stage; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over medium heat.)
      
3. For garnishes, in a medium- sized skillet over medium heat, heat oil until hot. Add bread cubes and cook and stir, until bread is crisp and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and set aside. (Croutons can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover loosely with foil and leave at room temperature.)

4. To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish each serving with some croutons and diced feta and with a sprinkle of fresh chopped tarragon. Serves 4.

Notes: 

I love this soup prepared with fresh peas, but if unavailable you can substitute 2 cups frozen peas (about 12 oz), which have been defrosted, drained, and patted dry.  

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