I love early spring as a gardener, but I hate it as a chef.
All the delicate flavors of spring we look forward to – the asparagus and rhubarb and tender greens – those crops tend to be ready for harvesting about 6 weeks after our tummies are ready to be eating them. Talk about frustration. And peas are the worst. Everyone wants fresh peas for Easter, but in the Pacific Northwest it’s typically early June before we can actually harvest.
I almost called this “Waiting For Spring Soup” because that’s what’s happening right now. My garden has not yet started producing those eagerly anticipated Spring vegetables, but my stomach is crying out for them.
Luckily, no veg freezes more beautifully than peas, and the commercially available frozen organic peas are – to my palate – often better than the homegrown, home-frozen equivalent. I know of no other vegetable like this. Besides, shelling fresh peas is a ton of work, so I decided several years ago to not grow shelling peas at all and instead to focus on sugar-snap types. Until the Zombies come a’knocking, I’ll buy my frozen peas as needed at the store.
Which suits this soup just fine.
Petite green peas get a Thai-ish makeover with cilantro, ginger and coconut milk. This soup is easily vegan-adaptable but is plenty delicious for omnivores, too. Make it and bring Spring into your kitchen, even if you’re still months away from the first fresh pea harvest.
Spring Pea Soup with Coconut Milk
Gather your ingredients.
Saute the aromatics.
Add in the water, salt and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add peas and simmer until tender.
Add the lime juice and cilantro leaf, then use an immersion blender to puree the soup to the desired texture.
I like a semi-smooth texture.
Garnish with cilantro leaf and chopped cashews.
Spring Pea Soup with Coconut Milk
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil
- 1/2 white onion, peeled and rough chopped
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
- 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems separated and rough chopped
- 4 cups water
- 1-2 tbsp fish sauce or kosher salt, or more to taste.
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 2, 12-oz. bags frozen shelled peas
- Juice of 1 medium lime
To serve (optional, but nice)
- Chopped cashews
- Heat coconut oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add chopped onions, garlic, ginger, and the tender stems of the cilantro to the coconut oil. Cook until onion is tender and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. The mixture should be very aromatic.
- Add water, fish sauce or kosher salt and coconut milk to the onion mixture. Bring all to a simmer.
- Add frozen peas and cook until tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Add in the lime juice and half the chopped cilantro leaves. Reserve half for garnish.
- Remove soup from heat just after adding lime and cilantro and puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth.
- For best color, serve right away, garnished with reserved cilantro leaves, and chopped cashews.
PERFECT recipe for Waiting-For-Spring season! I have always used some of the Lenten Greek soups for this period of time. They do quartered artichokes, with onions, potatoes, carrots and lots of lemon and fresh dill, garnished with olive oil. You can sub asparagus for the artichoke too. And/or thicken with egg for that Avgo-Lemono (Egg-Lemon) flavor. I suspect frozen green peas would work with those flavors too, and maybe coconut and cilantro would work well with artichokes and asparagus. You have inspired me! (You always do.) Thanks.
I love Avgolemono! Mine is always super boring – broth, rice, eggs, lemon. I love the idea off adding all those veggies. Thanks for the idea.
Val Rogers says
Avogolemono, when made with love, is sublimely simple, never boring. This pea recipe sounds yumm & easy. Agree shelling peas are work to process & freeze & cheap to buy.
Johanna Coolbaugh says
Looks amazing. Any tips if you don’t have an immulsion blender? Will a regular blender work as well?
Sure, but be very careful pureeing hot liquids in a regular blender or you’ll get pea soup on your kitchen ceiling. Fill blender only half-way, put lid on, put towel on lid, hold the towel and lid down firmly and pulse to desired consistency. Do in batches as necessary.
I’m always at a loss on what to do with recipes that call for cilantro. I’m one of those people that thinks it tastes like soap, and avoid the recipe, leave it out or use parsley instead. Would parsley be weird in this?
Parsley is fine, but you can leave it out altogether too, or sub in a little bit of mint for a more traditional flavor. The soap thing with cilantro is very real – don’t feel weird, it’s just a difference in how your taste buds respond to the chemicals in cilantro. Some of my best personal chef clients years ago perceived cilantro the same way.
We’re definitely two peas of a pod. 🙂 I also stopped growing shelling peas and have only sweet peas, snap peas and snow peas in the ground and greenhouse right now. I plant them in different microclimates to extend the season (rather than successively sowing, which I never get the hang of since I’m lucky if I get them sown once!) I love all the Thai flavors in your soup and can’t wait to try it! Thanks for inspiration and beautiful photos too.
One of my goals for 2014 is to finally try fall/winter peas in the greenhouse. I think it’ll work great! Have you tried that?
I’m planting my fall peas this week! Here’s hoping…
I was just trying to find a new recipe to try while my folks visit. Dad has high cholesterol issues so avoids dairy. I usually turn to Thai food, mostly because I love it, but he can easily eat it as well. This, along with some chicken satay and peanut sauce and pad thai will be dinner one night next week. Frozen peas are one veggie everyone in my family likes and will eat without any complaint. Unfortunately there was a run on them and none were to be found when I did my grocery shopping last weekend. Hope they are back in stock shortly.
A run on peas? Geez, what is this country coming to? 😉 Let me know what you and your dad think if you make it.
I love peas! This recipe looks delicious. I may try this with light coconut milk (stupid diet!) and see what happens. Has anyone else gone that route?
Sure thing, it will most likely still be great. I just really, really like fat.
Okay, maybe this is a silly question, but are those cilantro stems in with your onions? I’ve always just tossed out the stems when using the leaves, but it looks like I have had it all wrong! Should I be cooking with the stems, too?
Yes, the stems are great eats – add them to any kind of SE Asian type soup or broth for additional flavor. If you are making something like salsa that only needs the leaves, just pop the stems in the freezer until you need them.
I just made this for dinner – and it was delicious! Perfect for that night where you have coriander in the fridge but nothing else…
Made this for dinner tonight and it was great. I was fed canned peas as a kid and absolutely hated them. I’m a recent pea convert and this recipe has given me a reason to like peas. Next time I will have it with some real crusty bread.
This looks great! Have you ever made it and not blended? I’m thinking of trying it.
Just made this recipe. Super easy delicious! I used kosher salt instead of fish sauce. This recipe is great! Thanks so much Erica!