Louella’s Pea Patch
By Cheryl Forberg, RD
Growing up in Minnesota, we didn’t have access to the incredible array of fresh vegetables I can find today in California. Back then, most of our vegetables were canned or frozen, except for a short window in the summer, when sweet corn, green beans and tomatoes were grown everywhere. Fresh sweet peas were not readily available in markets near our home, but my grandmother always had a big pea patch on her farm in Wisconsin. My favorite memory of sweet peas (in fact one of my favorite memories period) was arriving at Grandma’s farm for a summer visit. We usually arrived at lunchtime when Grandpa Henry would be taking a break from working in the field. There would be a huge pot of chicken and dumplings simmering on the stove and Grandma would shuck the just picked peas into the apron on her lap. She would add them to the chicken pot when the dumplings were starting to float. This was always our welcome lunch in the summer because she knew how much we loved it.
I can’t say that I’ve made a lot of chicken and dumplings since then, but when I think of sweet peas, I think of my Grandma Louella, and all the love that went into her cooking and baking – everything from scratch.
The flavor of fresh sweet peas elicits so many wonderful memories for me. I really should prepare them more often. Here’s a simple recipe for a fresh pea soup that the French call Potage Saint-Germain. The original version was very refined and made with homemade stock, fresh cream and a splash of sherry. It was first served to King Louis XIV at Château de Saint-Germain-en-Lay, hence its name. My version is much more basic, but well-loved at our house. If you don’t have access to fresh peas, you can use thawed frozen peas.
Potage St. Germain - Fresh Pea Soup
If your peas are already shucked, this will take minutes to make! This makes a small batch but it would be very easy to double or triple. A fabulous variation is to top the soup with a fresh poached egg (see photo - I prefer it this way). This will add 70 calories and 6 grams of protein.
Makes: 2 servings
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 cups shelled fresh sweet peas (or frozen peas, thawed and rinsed)*
1½ cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
½ teaspoon smoked salt
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground white pepper
fresh chives and plain fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened but not browned. Add the 1½ cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add peas and simmer over medium high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until peas are just cooked tender but still bright.
Pour the broth and peas into the bowl of a food processor or a blender jar and pulse until very smooth. Add extra hot broth if you prefer a thinner soup.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh chives and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. Serve immediately.
1½ pounds of sweet peas in the pod = approx. 2 cups shucked peas
Nutritional Analysis for 1 serving (approx. 1 cup)
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans fat 0g
Dietary Fiber: 7g
Vitamin A 70% RDA
Vitamin C 2% RDA
Calcium 4% RDA
Iron 0% RDA