my maternal grandmother is polish and she would always make pea soup in winter. this is because in pakistan peas are a winter vegetable. in london, summer brings fresh and sweet peas. it may be a faff podding them but it is worth the effort to make this soup. this is loosely based on my babcia's recipe who uses onions in place of the shallots. she uses a squiggle of cream to garnish but i have added some things that i think pair well. —mehrunnisa
for the soup
plump cloves of garlic
fresh or frozen peas
vegetable stock or water + more if needed
peel, halve and finally slice the shallots. roughly crush the garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle. warm the olive oil over a low/medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan and add the shallots to it. sweat the shallots in the warm oil until they soften and become translucent. they should not pick colour. add the garlic and allow it cook for a minute or so until mellow.
turn up the heat and add the peas. fry them briefly (no more than two and a half minutes). they should retain their bright colour.
place the contents of the pan in a blender and top with half of the stock/liquid. avoid using a meat or poultry based stock as it overpowers the flavour. process the soup until it is smooth. then return it to the pan and add the remaining stock. bring the soup to a gentle simmer and cook for five minutes. my husband and i prefer a thick soup. if you like a thinner consistency add more stock/water as desired.
season the soup with a pinch of white pepper and salt to taste. i prefer using less salt to allow the sweetness of the peas to take centre stage but recognise that some may prefer a more savoury flavour.
loosen the crème fraiche with the lemon juice. then stir in the lemon zest.
ladle the soup into deep bowls. add a dollop of the crème fraiche and a squiggle of olive oil. scatter some of the almonds and chives and a twist of coarsely ground black pepper over the surface of the soup. tuck a slice or two of toasted sourdough alongside the bowl and serve yourself