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.