Sweet peas are some of the vegetable kingdom's greatest little gifts. They're perfectly sized, vibrant, and sweet — and they possess an irresistible "green" flavor. Come spring, they’re also one of the first vegetables to show up at farmers' markets or bearing fruit in your garden.
I love to eat sweet peas in many different ways: sautéed with basil and mint, or in a wholesome-yet-delicious bowl of farro, or sometimes even in a salad. But now I’m excited to share a recipe with you that I think makes the sweet pea even more enticing.
Not only is this soup full of that addictive green-pea essence, it's also a perfect canvas for the exotic flavors of the coulis. The pan-roasted cumin, the fresh herbs, and the hint of heat in the coulis, paired with the sweetness of the peas, deliver a truly unique taste experience.
Needless to say, the soup is superb with fresh peas, but you can use frozen ones, too. They work just as well.
*Note: If using frozen peas, do not thaw.
Heat a small, heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they turn a dark color and are fragrant, shaking the pan constantly and taking care not to burn the spice, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and grind until coarsely powdered.
Fill a large bowl with cold water and several ice cubes.
In a pot, bring 8 cups of water to a fast boil. Add the salt and mint leaves and blanch for 10 seconds only. Immediately remove from the boiling water and place in the ice water bath. Once cooled, drain and squeeze the leaves as dry as possible and lay on a paper towel.
Coarsely chop the mint with scissors. Place cumin, mint, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, salt, cayenne, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process at high speed until very finely chopped and smooth.
The coulis can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic has released its flavor, but doesn’t brown, for 30 seconds.
Add the wine and continue to sauté until the wine has completely evaporated and the onions look glossy, for 4 minutes. Add the peas, stock, 2 ½ cups of the water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to between medium and medium-low, cover the pot and simmer until the peas are tender, for 7 minutes.
Purée the soup with an immersion blender or food processor until soup is very smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add the crème fraîche and additional water to the desired consistency and purée for a few more seconds until well incorporated. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Place a spoonful of the cumin-mint coulis off center and draw a skewer through the coulis several times to create a spiky pattern (as shown in the photo). Serve immediately.
The soup can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated, but it is best eaten as soon as it’s made. It will lose its vibrant green color the longer it stands.