May brings new beginnings at markets: a farmers’ market is adding new vendors at the New United Motors auto factory in Fremont; ProducePaks, containing a colorful array of fruits and vegetables, were delivered to the first 54 customers at 1800 Harrison; and the Martinez Kaiser Permanente market opened in sunny weather. As these direct farmer-to-eater models expand, it’s good for the growers and us eaters.
May also brings English peas and spring garlic. While familiar with peas, I had never used spring garlic, which is simply the youthful precursor of the heads of garlic. Spring garlic is much milder and hasn’t yet differentiated into distinct segments. Along with a few other ingredients, the peas and spring garlic make a great soup.
- 3 lbs spring garlic, white and light green parts thinly sliced
- 3 lbs English peas, shelled (about 3 cups of peas)
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh mint, chopped finely for garnish
Heat the olive oil and “sweat” the spring garlic in a large soup pot for a few minutes over low heat. Add the carrots and shallots and “sweat” them as well until they begin to soften. I’ve learned that cooking vegetables like this over low heat allows them to release their juices and to meld flavors without browning. Add the peas and about 3 cups of stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the peas are tender.
Purée the soup in batches in your blender. Remember the safety tip of keeping at least part of the lid open or taking the lid off and covering the blender with a kitchen towel before starting it in order to let the steam escape and prevent soup explosions. Return the soup to the pot (or a different pot if you purée it in batches). Add some or all of the remaining stock to achieve desired soup consistency. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish, if desired, with fresh mint.