A steaming hot bowl of soup was the perfect lunch the day after my plane touched down to snowy weather in the U.S. from sunny South Africa (by way of beautifully warm Dubai).
I have a pea soup recipe that’s so easy to make it can be executed even when affected by jet lag. And it’s packed with rich flavors and healthy nutrients sure to boost your energy levels, heat you up, and excite your taste buds!
Dried fennel seeds add a deep licorice flavor that’s spicy and festive for the holiday season; they have the same awakening effect on the palate that fresh mint has when added to a cold spring or summer pea soup. The fennel seed is the secret ingredient that people won’t (usually) be able to quite identify when they first taste the soup; it adds a sense of intrigue and will keep people guessing!
This particular pea soup was inspired by my mother’s recipe, which in turn was inspired by a wonderful pea soup by Ina Garten that uses fresh fennel and crème fraiche.
I developed my own variation of the soup based on my mother’s recipe: my mother substitutes the fresh fennel in Garten’s soup for dried fennel seeds, and she leaves out the crème fraiche, which is perfect for those of us who are lactose intolerant!
Garten’s and my mother’s recipes lend themselves well to variation, as they use a rather straight forward base of olive oil, onions, chicken stock, and peas. I alter the recipe in that I add carrots to the mix. I also bring a bit more texture to the table!
Instead of blending all of the soup with a hand blender, I prefer to blend half of the soup, and then add the puree back into the mixture of vegetables and chicken stock.
Once the two mixtures are combined, the soup will have an appealing stew-like thickness to it and one can fully experience the individual tastes and textures of the carrots, the peas, and the onions.
Jazz up the taste and presentation of the soup by topping it with freshly toasted croutons, like my mother and Garten suggest. I like to use thick, crusty squares of whole grain bread that I toast in a cast iron skillet with some good olive oil and Maldon Sea Salt.
You can also sprinkle a few fennel seeds on top, but only if you want to reveal the secret ingredient!
Jet Lag Pea Soup With Dried Fennel
- 2 white onions (1 medium, 1 large)
- 6 carrots (or to your taste– more if you like carrots, less if you don’t)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 3 cups of chicken stock (you can add more or less, depending on how thick you want the soup)
- Sea Salt: I like Maldon Sea Salt (season to your taste)
- 2 medium sized bags of frozen peas
- Peel one large and one medium sized white onion. Give them a rough chop.
- Wash and dry a bunch of carrots and cut them into thick rounds. I leave the skins on. Use however many you like. I use 6.
- Let the onions sweat in the pot until slightly translucent.
- Add the carrots in with the onions and a few healthy pinches of dried fennel seed.
- Add 3 cups of chicken broth to the pot. This is roughly what I use, but you might want to adjust the thickness of the soup as you go along by adding water. I usually add a bit of water near the end if the soup gets too thick. You can also substitute vegetable broth if you want to make this soup completely vegetarian. Bring everything in the pot to a boil.
- When the stock comes to a boil, add two medium sized bags of frozen peas. Again, do this to your taste. If you really like peas (like I do!) the more the merrier; cook them in the stock until the peas are tender. Then, shut off the heat.
- Remove half of the mixture into a separate bowl or pot. Blend the mixture left in the pot with a hand blender or place in a normal blender.This is another place you can modify the recipe to your liking. If you want to leave the mixture slightly chunky, do so! If you want to fully puree it, that will taste great too! This part of the recipe is not an exact science!
- Combine the two mixtures back in the main pot over a low heat. Taste the mixture and add salt if necessary.