Come late spring when balmy evenings edge into Portland, Oregon, David Padberg, the chef at Raven & Rose, gives hot soups the cold shoulder. Padberg's savory chilled soups are made with whichever seasonal vegetables are at their peak, such as asparagus, cucumber and almond, or, come early fall, parsnip and hazelnut. For about six weeks from late May through June, Padberg showcases peas. He blanches them in boiling water to shake their raw edge, then blends them with sautéed sweet onion, garlic, vegetable broth and fresh mint. A subtle lavender cream is spiraled over the strained soup before serving.
Chilled Pea Soup with Lavender Crème Fraîche
Recipe adapted from David Padberg, Raven & Rose, Portland, OR
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
5 cups shelled peas
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus extra if needed
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 sweet onion, such as a Vidalia or Walla Walla, finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 cups cold vegetable broth
6 fresh mint leaves
¼ cup heavy cream
2 fresh lavender sprigs or ½ teaspoon dried lavender
¼ cup crème fraîche
1. Make the soup: Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside. To a medium saucepan of boiling water, add the peas and 1 tablespoon of the salt. Cook until the peas are tender, 1 to 2 minutes, then strain them in a fine-mesh sieve and plunge the sieve into the ice water to stop the cooking. Once the peas are cool, transfer them to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
2. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the onion, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the white pepper. Cook the onion, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes (if the onion begins to brown, reduce the heat to medium-low). Stir in the garlic and cook until translucent and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the onion mixture to a large plate to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, infuse the crème fraîche: In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream. Once the cream comes to a simmer, add the lavender, cover the saucepan and turn off the heat. Let the cream infuse for 10 minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve (discard the lavender) and into a small bowl. Refrigerate the lavender-infused cream until cooled, about 15 minutes, then add the crème fraîche, stirring until smooth.
4. To a blender jar, add the peas, the cooled onion mixture and the cold vegetable broth. Purée to combine. Add the mint and purée; then, with the blender running, drizzle in the remaining scant ½ cup of olive oil very slowly until the mixture is thick and creamy. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve, taste and add more salt if needed. Divide among 6 cold soup bowls. Serve topped with a spoonful of the lavender crème fraîche.