Recipe for pea soup with pasta and parmesan
In the house where I grew up, gigantic bags of frozen peas and carrots filled the freezer and, all too often, found their way to the dinner table. I detested everything about them: the artificially-enhanced color, the uniform shape of the carrots, the bland flavor, the fact that they were always overcooked. Or undercooked. I was scarred for life. And, yet, I found a bag of peas in my freezer yesterday. Not the bag we use as an ice pack, but a real, unused, never-been-thawed bag of peas. This recipe is my attempt to banish the bad frozen-peas-and-carrots memories, and while I'm not quite ready to try frozen carrots, I have to admit that frozen peas make a fine soup, especially at this time of year when we don't yet have tender fresh peas from the garden.
Pea soup with pasta and parmesan
Serves 4; can be doubled.
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-1/2 cups frozen baby sweet peas, divided (do not defrost)
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 cup tiny pasta
3 Tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus extra for garnish
Coarse sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
In a 4- or 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan, combine the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until just softened. Add 2 cups of the peas, plus the oregano. Cook, stirring to keep the peas from sticking, for 2 minutes. Pour in the broth, and raise heat to high. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and, with an immersion blender, puree until smooth. (Or, if you're using a stand blender, let the soup cool for a few minutes, then puree in batches, and return to the pot.)
Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of peas, and the pasta. Again, bring the soup to the boil over high heat, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring often to keep the pasta and whole peas from sticking. If the soup is thickening too much, add 1/2 cup of water. After 5 minutes, grate the cheese directly into the pot with a Microplane® or box grater, and season with salt and pepper to taste (this soup loves quite a bit of black pepper, so don't be timid).
Continue cooking for 5 minutes more, or until the pasta is soft. If the soup is too thick, add more water or stock to achieve the texture you like.
Ladle into individual serving bowls, and garnish with grated cheese.