Pureed Pea Soup with Shiitake Mushrooms
It’s winter in central PA right now and we just had an enormous pile of snow to dig out from. It’s no surprise, then, that our thoughts have turned to spring. This pea soup, in all its glorious greenness, brings the thought of adventures in the warm sun, watching the new leaves unfurl as the days grow longer. We know this soup can’t actually change the weather, but it can give us comfort in the knowledge that this current freeze, and the ice and snow that comes with it, will lift.
The base of this soup is made from our Vegetable Stock Powder, a blend that incorporates the bright and breezy savor of Mediterranean herbs, like oregano and thyme, with the earthy flavor of turmeric and the deeply grounded taste of nutritional yeast. A vegan flavoring, nutritional yeast brings a Parmesan-like depth to vegetable-based recipes. This blend is versatile and can go beyond the boundaries of a soup base; try sprinkling this over pasta, or adding it to a breading for chicken.
This recipe is easy, but the peas do require a bit of attention, even if it’s for a short period of time. They should be blanched, but just for a minute. It will cook them enough to allow them to break down easily in the soup, but the short blanch will also allow them to maintain some texture. This is also why, later in the recipe, you don’t want to let it come to a boil; a boil will tear the peas apart and turn them to mush. Right after blanching the peas should be shocked; cooling them in icy water will, again, maintain texture, and it will also preserve the bright green color that gives this soup so much visual appeal.
Bulking up the pea soup with ham wasn’t an option because we wanted to keep the recipe vegetarian, though you could always add some at home if that’s not a concern. We wanted to give the soup something that had a great, meaty texture and umami flavor, so we opted for the rich earthiness of shiitake mushrooms. We caramelized them in a pan, and—word to the wise—when caramelizing mushrooms, put them in the pan and DO NOT TOUCH THEM for 5 or 8 or even 10 minutes. Don’t stir them, don’t try and peek at them to see if they’re ready. Don't even breathe on them. They’re ready when they shrink a bit and the brown color starts to creep up the side of the mushrooms. Stirring them too early will cause them to release the copious moisture they have in them, directly into the pan, which will steam them. They’ll still be yummy. They just won’t be as yummy, and won't develop that beautiful golden color. Also, make sure the mushrooms have plenty of room in the sauté pan; if they’re crowded and press against each other, that will also cause them to steam instead of caramelize. Food needs space in order to brown properly.
Serve this with a spring mix salad to keep your eyes on brighter days ahead, or go for the full-carb comforts of winter and dig into that hot bowl of soup with a crusty roll with a some butter. Either way, you get a great meal that’s healthy and filling and ready in about a half an hour. Enjoy!
1. Combine Vegetable Stock Powder and warm water and whisk to combine.
2. Blanch peas in boiling salted water for 1 minute, strain peas, and shock them in ice water.
3. Drain peas and put in a blender with 3 Tbsp olive oil, Fine Sea Salt, Ground White Pepper, and fresh mint. Pulse a few times to combine then gradually add vegetable broth to the blender until smoothly pureed. Return pea soup to stove top and heat on medium-low (do not boil).
4. Combine mushrooms, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, and the remaining olive oil.
5. Pre-heat sauté pan on medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the mushrooms release some of their moisture and begin to brown.
6. Serve with mushrooms on top of the pea soup.