“This is a soup for late spring, when there is still a bit of a chill in the air,” Jose Pizarro writes about this easy recipe. “It’s best made with fresh peas but, since these quickly turn to starch, frozen ones — which keep their sweetness — are a thoroughly acceptable substitute.”
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 quart chicken stock
28 ounces shelled peas
4 thin slices of white bread from a small loaf
4 thin slices of Serrano ham
Small bunch of mint, leaves stripped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Saute the shallot and garlic until soft and golden. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and add the peas. Simmer for 4 minutes.
While stock and peas are simmering, you can start cooking the bread and ham. Heat remaining oil in a small frying pan until oil starts to shimmer. Slide the bread, 2 slices at a time, into oil and cook until golden on both sides. Remove and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Repeat process with the ham — you want it crisp and browned. Use more oil if necessary.
Stir the mint leaves into the soup, then use a hand blender to process the mixture to a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, make 4 open-face sandwiches by laying a slice of ham onto each slice of toast. Ladle the soup into warm bowls and then, a bit like launching a paper boat onto a pond, gently float one ham-topped toast in each bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil over each serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Source: Seasonal Spanish Food by Jose Pizarro (Kyle, $32.95)