NEW YORK CITY — Spring means an abundance of green vegetables, from dandelion greens and arugula to legumes like peas.
The warmer weather and sunshine bring out the sweetness of these veggies, which are both delicious and good for you, too.
Peas are loaded with nutrition, from fiber in the seed coat to vitamins and minerals such as folic acid and vitamins A, C and K in the pea itself.
They also contain a number of phytochemicals such as polyphenolics and saponins, which may have anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant qualities, according to a 2012 study.
Instead of dried peas, which are fine but cook up to a dull finish, or canned peas, it's nice to go with fresh ones which can be found in some grocery stores and farmers markets.
They're easy to shell, but if they haven't arrived fresh from the farm, their taste could be way off. Peas that are flash-frozen right after being picked are sweet and better quality than those that aren't super fresh.
This bright-green soup, which is perfect on chilly days, showcases the flavor of the peas and is rounded out by the brightness of mint, the smoke of bacon and garlicky homemade croutons.
Here's how to make it tonight.
Makes about 8 servings.
5 10-oz. packages of fresh or flash frozen peas
8 sprigs of fresh mint, leaves finely chopped
1 sweet onion, diced
2 slices thickly cut bacon, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Water or vegetable stock (about 6 cups)
Light cream (optional)
For the croutons (makes about 4 cups):
1 small baguette
1 tsp. Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
For the croutons:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut the bread into bite-sized pieces and place in a single layer in a baking tray.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and the garlic.
4. Bake until the edges are browned, about 20 minutes, and set aside.
For the soup:
1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp.
2. Remove the bacon and drain most of the fat, leaving about a tablespoon behind.
3. Add a teaspoon of olive oil and then add the garlic and onions. Sweat about 5 minutes, softening the vegetables, but not coloring them.
4. Add the peas and sautee for about a minute.
5. Then just barely cover the peas with water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
7. Turn the heat down and simmer until the peas are just cooked through, about 4 minutes. They should still be bright green.
8. Add the mint and bacon pieces and puree using a blender or immersion blender.
9. Add a swirl of cream if you want.