I need a new immersion blender and I knew that. The on/off switch has gotten rather temperamental as of late and it can be really difficult to switch on. (I am sure you know where this is going.) Given the appearance of all the fresh faced veggies in the market, I decided to make a simple pea and spinach soup for dinner last evening. The unusually balmy days of late have given way to the normal springtime chill and thought that the sight of the bright green soup would warm the chill of the night while also cheering the cockles of the soul. All was going well until I pulled out the immersion blender. I considered pulling out the countertop blender but obviously did not consider that thought long enough as I reached for my beloved, although aging, immersion blender – one of the most used and handiest tools in my kitchen. After wrestling with the on/off switch for a bit, it wouldn’t turn on. Frustrated, I jammed the switch into the up position and yup, on it went with the blender part only partially immersed in my beautiful bright green soup. Result – that beautiful pea soup brightened things up all right – including my counter, walls, stove and most importantly, my pretty purple spring sweater. But fear not – thankfully all was not lost. After a few choice Italian expletives, I poured myself a much needed glass of vino, cleaned up the kitchen, held a rather ceremonial tossing of the immersion blender into the recycle bin, and resumed my cooking. Thankfully, my soup turned out as intended with that beautiful taste of spring shining through. And I must say – I looked rather trendy with my purple sweater and its new green polka dot pattern. Enjoy and happy spring!
Spring Pea and Spinach Soup with Pancetta Crumbles
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks (white part plus a bit of the pale green), quartered and chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 10 ounces of baby spinach, washed and dried
4 cups of fresh or frozen baby peas (or 2 10-oz bags)
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
1/3 pound pancetta, diced (optional)
Creme fraiche or sour cream or heavy cream (optional) – I used low-fat sour cream
Equipment: 1 medium saucepan or stockpot, 1 small fry pan, blender/immersion blender or food processor
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until the leeks are translucent and soft – about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the spinach and sauté until wilted. Add in the baby peas and sauté until softened. Stir in the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer until peas are tender – about 10 minutes.
3. Allow soup to cool slightly. Working in batches if necessary, puree the soup using a counter blender or immersion blender.
4. Return puree to the pot and add in the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bring back to a slow simmer. If too thick, add in a bit of water or stock. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
5. If using, make the pancetta crumbles: Heat a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the diced pancetta and allow to cook over low heat to render the fat (melt away). After the fat has been rendered, turn up the heat a bit and fry the pancetta bits until crispy. Drain on a paper towel and reserve.
6. To serve the soup, ladle into warmed bowls. Top with a dollop or drizzle of cream frache, heavy or sour cream, if using. Top with a few of the pancetta crumbles. Serve! Buon appetito!