Fresh English Pea, Wild Morel, and Garlic Scape Soup

credit: Gary Hynes

Recipe and image by Gary Hynes

When I cook, it’s rarely precise. Each time I make a dish it comes out slightly different because I hate to measure ingredients. Even the method changes slightly depending on how I feel that day. This would be a disastrous approach in a restaurant, where consistency is of prime importance, but at home, cooking spontaneously with the ingredients on hand at the moment, it seems to work out just fine (most of the time). I have an idea of how I want the dish to turn out and taste and work towards that goal.

With this in-season soup, I started with fresh, English peas I found at one market and a small handful of last-of-the-season, wild, morel mushrooms I had found at another. These purchases happened to coincide with the sprouting of the tender scapes—those beautiful curls at the top of the tall stalks on the two rows of garlic I overwintered in my garden.

To me, a good soup is one of the greatest ways to extract and savour the flavours from delicate ingredients. Why not put these three, early summer tastes together in one bowl?

Here’s the recipe (such as it is):

Butter as needed

4 cups homemade chicken stock (from a good antibiotic-free chicken) defatted.

2 lbs fresh English peas in their pods, shelled

a good-sized handful of wild morel mushrooms, coarsely chopped

about a dozen garlic scapes, roughly chopped

1 small onion, minced (about a ¼ cup)

salt & pepper to taste

sour cream or crème fraiche (for the garnish)

chives, clipped with scissors over the bowls of soup

Put a couple of  small spoonfuls of butter in a pan over low heat, add the onion and sweat until soft. Heat the chicken stock in a medium soup pot and add the cooked onion, the peas and the scapes. Simmer until just barely cooked.

Put another couple of spoonfuls of butter in that first pan again and briefly cook the morels over low heat and set aside.

Purée the chicken stock mixture in a food processor until smooth. Do this in small batches so the hot liquid doesn’t overflow the machine (if you want a really silky texture, sieve the purée manually through a food mill). Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, reheat the soup gently and add the cooked mushrooms. Serve in bowls with dollops of sour cream and clippings of chives.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer.

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