The first time I had this kind of fresh pea soup, so different from the more traditional ones made from dried peas and cooked forever, was on a cold and wet day in Berlin. After walking around for hours around lunchtime we were very much in need of sustenance as well as warming and drying up, so we ducked into a tiny restaurant which turned out to be a “soup kitchen” in the literal sense: there were three kinds of soups and stews in large pots, ladled into bowls to take to one of the few small tables; and baskets with good hearty German rye bread to help yourself. I chose the lemony pea soup with pink peppercorns and could not have been happier.
This is my recreation of this soup, which manages to hit that spot between comfort and light freshness, just the thing for this time of the year between winter and spring. It also happens to be incredibly easy and quick to make.
Chop an onion, some parsley stems and celery for the base flavour as well as 2 or 3 waxy potatoes for creaminess into smallish dice, maybe a bit larger than pea-sized; gently braise in some olive oil and butter until starting to soften. Dump in a whole lot of fresh peas – or a bag of frozen ones, when they’re out of season.
Top with vegetable stock or water to just cover the vegetables, generously salt and let come to boil. After a minute or so add a splash of cold water to stop it from cooking, take off the heat and cover; let it sit for a bit (at least half an hour, if you can spare it before getting too hungry) so that the flavours can meld without the peas overcooking.
Gently reheat, taste for doneness and seasoning. Add a splash of (sour) cream, crème fraîche or greek yoghurt and lemon juice and purée it with an immersion blender to your liking; I prefer quite a few peas and vegetable chunks left whole. Ladle into bowls, top with another dollop of greek yoghurt or crème fraîche, grate over a bit of lemon zest and sprinkle with freshly ground pink peppercorns. A drizzle of olive oil on top and nice bread on the side, too.