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Herby Pea Soup for Springtime

Herby Pea Soup | Delightful Crumb

Well. Here we are, still, despite everything. The times have not gotten less strange, though we’ve perhaps become more accustomed to them. For most of us, I don’t think it’s become much easier. In many ways, I feel like I’m in an extremely protracted experience of transition, one that was simply kicked off by a cross-country move so many months ago. There are new things I miss now, like the running trail near my apartment, stopping by the vast expanse of the lake, the surprising ease of visiting friends and family in Michigan, the restaurants and bars and coffee shops where I was just becoming a proper regular. But there are other things that I simply still miss—friends from Oakland, knowing at least the faces of all my neighbors, a level of familiarity that was only beginning to build here in Chicago. I wonder how long change and uncertainty will be so constant. And all this is just the tip of my own iceberg. If I’ve realized anything, it’s that everyone has an extremely specific experience of this time of coronavirus—a very personal matrix of reasons for worry or concern, with our own health risks and vulnerable loved ones, our own work worries, our own anxieties, our own fears. All I really know is that I don’t fully understand what anyone else is facing (which is generally the case in life, though we might forget it), and the best I can do is offer compassion and empathy and my very best self up to the world.

The rapid changes and unpredictability of the moment make me that much more grateful for springtime, for the trustworthy clockwork of the seasons ticking on. In some ways it feels wrong—that with so much pain and tragedy and suffering and confusion, the seasons just carry on like nothing has changed. Yet I’m also comforted that in a moment when so much is unpredictable, there’s something that happens just as expected, even when the sunny skies don’t match our moods. I’ve been reminded of a few things I’d forgotten about springtime—that is, the more dramatic arrival of this season on the heels of winter, as compared to the lovely but mild appearance at the end of a citrus-and-avocado-soaked California winter. I’d forgotten exactly how it smells, so utterly specific, especially after the rain. I was surprised by my own excitement about the first buds appearing on the trees, and the shock of seeing crocuses emerging from earth so recently frozen. I did not quite recall how deeply upsetting those last few snows are, when you are definitely over it—despite the fact that it’s just as beautiful as that first autumn snow. And last but not least, I had forgotten how weary of root vegetables a person can be. I hate to even say this, but for my Midwestern and East Coast and European friends: I happen to know that they have strawberries and edible flowers and PLENTY of asparagus over in the Bay Area by now. Meanwhile, I am living on spinach and anticipation.

This is the soup for those of us eager for springtime in all its glory but still subsisting on its promise. And, if I may be so bold to make the association, it’s a reminder that sometimes we have to live on that promise for a while, before the world turns a corner. May we all have enough outlandish hope to carry us to that moment.

Herby Green Pea & Coconut Soup

Adapted from Anna Jones’s A Modern Way to Cook

Serves 4 to 6

I love a fresh English pea, but while I’m waiting for those babies in early spring (but also in the dark of winter), this is where I turn. Swap in whatever soft, flavorful herbs you have on hand (parsley alone is less exciting but acceptable), and be generous with the toppings. If you don’t have green onions but do have a couple of leeks or spring onions, by all means use those! They will take a little longer to cook. You can use an immersion blender to purée the soup, but I always use a normal blender to make it super smooth as I find that’s part of the appeal. I sometimes make a half batch of this, and we gobble the whole thing up.

Herby Pea Soup | Delightful Crumb

Generous scoop of coconut oil

1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped

Salt

2 pounds frozen peas

1 14-ounce can of full-fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder or 1/2 stock cube

1 bunch basil, cilantro, mint, parsley or a combination of these

1–2 lemons

Freshly cracked pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Yogurt or more coconut milk, for serving (optional)

Toasted pepitas, for serving (optional)

Fill a kettle of water and bring to a boil while you gather the rest of your ingredients.

Put a large soup pan over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and, once melted, the green onion and a pinch of salt. Turn up the heat and cook until the green onions are softened, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the peas, coconut milk, stock powder or cube and 3 cups of boiling water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add most of the herbs, soft stalks included, and the juice of one lemon. In a blender, purée the soup until very smooth. Taste and adjust for seasoning—you might want to add more salt or lemon. Add pepper here if you like as well.

Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and yogurt/coconut milk, if you wish, as well as freshly cracked black pepper, the herbs you reserved and toasted pepitas.

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