Monday, February 27, 2012

Winter blues, spring greens

I've been in quite a blogging funk. If you're a regular around these parts, perhaps you've noticed. Over the past week I even considered pulling the plug on the whole endeavor, having seen several other of my favorite bloggers do the very same this week. But on careful consideration, I realized that it is probably no coincidence that those announcements—and my feelings—came at the peak of the winter doldrums. It does, of course, depend on where you live, but right now in southeast Michigan it has been gray, grey, gray with not nearly enough snow to make it a happy gray and seemingly no end in sight. I've been feeling it and decided that now, in the midst of these wintery blues, is not the best time to make that decision. Instead, I am determined to recommit myself to the health and happiness of this little ol' blog project of mine because it does truly make me happy, and perhaps committing so little to it lately has contributed to my low creatie energy levels, or at least hasn't been there to cheer my moods.

So, in honor of this decision and as a testament to my intentions, I offer you this burst of spring color and flavor: A portioned down recipe for a lovely soup reeking of spring that Dorie Greenspan calls "Cheating on Winter" pea soup. This is not your smoky ham bone split pea, but a bright, light soup made vividly green with frozen peas and romaine lettuce. Don't fear the cooked lettuce — it gets fully pureed and lends a subtle grassiness without any wilted lettuce undertones.  I can't wait to repeat it in the height of pea season and serve it chilled. In the meantime, it's a wonderful promise that spring will indeed come soon enough.

"Cheating on Winter" pea soup
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table

1/2 Tb butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups chicken broth, water or vegetable broth
1/2 lb frozen peas (no need to defrost)
1/2 medium head romaine lettuce, sliced (about 4 cups)
Optional garnishes: Sour cream, crumbled cooked bacon

Melt butter in medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until just soft, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in peas and lettuce and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. You'll never fully blend the little pea skins, but get it as smooth as possible. Return soup to pot and season with salt and pepper. (You can thin it with a bit more water or broth if necessary, though my batch was quite thin.)

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or bacon.

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