Monday, July 14, 2014

L'Escoffier, The Beverly Hilton and Fresh Pea Soup

Many and many a year ago, back in the time of dating, Andrew took me out to dinner at L'Escoffier  in the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  I was awestruck although we didn't see a single famous person that we recognized.  It was enough to be in that venerable old hotel on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards.  The dining room was elegantly staged with white tablecloths, deep purple napkins, and roses in low vases.  The lighting was low.  Candles flickered in crystal holders on the tables.  My menu had no prices listed.  When the sommelier brought our bottle of wine, he showed Andrew the label and discreetly asked me the year of my birth.  Taken aback and thinking he was going to compare the date to the age of the wine, I hesitated slightly.  Hesitated enough for him to ask to see my driver's license!!  All was well and we sipped a marvelous vintage red with our dinner.

The meal was delicious!  We started with a pea soup that has never left my memory.  Through the years, I've tried to duplicate it without ever quite getting it right.  I always assumed the base was split peas.  An "aha" moment came when I found fresh peas in the market.  Of course, we've had fresh peas many times but the thought of using them for that particular soup never came to mind.

Here is my first attempt and it is very near the original.  Even Andrew agreed.  I wish he had prepared a dessert cart like the one we chose from that evening to finish our meal!!


Fresh Pea Soup as I Remember It (Almost)

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium-sized sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, mashed and chopped
2 large leeks, halved and cut into 1/2 inch pieces with some green included
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
5 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of fresh green peas (can use frozen)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of heavy cream (it's o.k. since it serves 8)

1.  Melt the butter and oil in a large soup pot.
2.  Add the onion, garlic and leeks and sauté for about 4 minutes, until soft
3.  Stir in the potato.  Add the stock and cook on high heat until it reaches the boiling point.  Lower the heat, cover lightly and simmer for about 25 minutes until the potato is softened.  Add the peas, cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
4.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  
5.  Add the cream and simmer an additional minute.
6.  Puree the soup using an immersion blender or a regular blender.
7.  Adjust the salt and pepper if needed.

ENJOY!

20 comments:

  1. This sounds wonderful, and how great that you were able to re-create it!

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  2. Wow to have figured it out after all these years, and remembered the taste so well! It does look good and I think it would be nice in the summer.

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  3. Never thought I would like . . . or even try . . . Pea Soup . . .
    I DO NOT like peas . . .
    Several weeks ago, while in Florida with my friend Babs . . . she made Pea Soup, with some ham left over from Easter dinner. I must say . . . "Try it, you might like it" . . . is true . . . I really, really liked it!
    Not sure if I will make some though . . . my hubby would like it!
    I'll save your recipe . . . does that help?

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  4. I forgot to say . . . I loved hearing your story . . . sweet memories.

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  5. I does sound delicious..
    I love the story..
    The first restore my husband took me to..Was called La Saulaie..
    No prices on my menu either!
    1973.

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  6. Your soup sounds amazing, I love pea soup! Fun to try to recreate such a special memory:@)

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  7. So food was important in your dating years too ... how fun.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  8. Ah, how I miss "ladies" menus with no prices. Those were the days in the classy restaurants. Your pea soup sounds divine and how fun to recreate it from fond memories.
    Sam

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  9. yikes on the no prices on the menu... i am sure it was a beautiful place to eat...

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  10. What a memorable experience! I can't even imagine how much it costs to dine there now. There is nothing to compare to a fresh pea soup..the taste and color is "Spring" in a bowl. If I can find some fresh peas I'd love to try your recipe,Bonnie.

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  11. What a romantic scene that was! I cannot believe how easy this is, but I can believe you have replicated it perfectly!

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  12. Great story and a great memory for both of you! Bill would love this soup and I should try to make it, maybe I would like pea soup then! And the menu, those were days, seldom see that now.

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  13. YUM... I love Pea Soup and yours sounds terrific... It is hard to 'duplicate' a dish which tasted SO good. I'll bet that yours is as good or BETTER...

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  14. What a wonderful story! I think it's wonderful to try and recreate such wonderful memories of dining together and the soup sounds wonderful with the chilly days we've been having .

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  15. That looks like the perfect summer soup! Thanks for your continued prayers and thoughts for my husband! Biz

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  16. An adorable story. Memories always taste better. I am sure it is even better than the original soup.
    'One of my favorite soups too.
    Blessings, Catherine

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  17. i love how food brings back memories. i can see why your memories are so great- this soup looks amazing and delicious

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  18. Oh, I too, have wanted a good pea soup recipe. I had it several time while in Ireland. I couldn't get enough of it. I hope you are having a wonderful summer.

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  19. I so enjoyed your sharing the memory of that date with your Andrew. Just warms my heart. Oh, I've missed this. And, the pea soup sounds DELICIOUS! =) blessings and hugs ~ tanna

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  20. oh that sounds so good and i really loved the story attached to it!

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