April 13

Peas, Peas Me, Oh Yeah

2  comments

There’s something about the arrival of spring that whets my appetite for green peas. Although they aren’t the lowest carb of green vegetable choices, they are enough of a bargain at 8.4 grams to enjoy a half-cup as a side dish with ham or lamb for Easter brunch–especially when you can get them fresh.

I confess that I love the tender, delicate flavor of fresh early spring peas almost any way you serve them. My main problem is that it’s very easy, loving them as I do, for the half-cup to grow into a portion not quite as carb friendly. That’s not to say that it would be so terrible to blow your carb budget on all the early spring peas you can stuff in, but why tempt fate? Since in my case, relying solely on self-discipline in the face of a serving bowl filled with tender spring peas, touched ever so lightly with butter, salt, and pepper, might prove problematic.

A better option might be to approach portion control a slightly different way: turn the peas into a delicious soup, instead. That way, you can stretch 10 ounces of peas to feed 6 people (not even 2 ounces per person) by combining them with carb-friendly broth and cream. Not to mention that soup is filling, which is why it’s a good way to start a meal.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes for green pea soup. It’s extra delicious made with fresh green peas, but works almost as well with frozen; that way, you can serve it any time of the year.

So, no matter where you live–even if the crocuses and daffodils haven’t quite yet broken through and a harvest of early peas are farther off still, you can add a little bit of spring green to your table this weekend! Enjoy.

Creamy Green Pea Soup

Serves 6

10 ounces fresh green peas (or one 10-ounce package frozen peas)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt (divided use)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (divided for use)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons ThickenThin not/Starch
1 cup half-and-half (at room temperature)
1 tablespoon chopped chives
4 tablespoons crème fraiche (or sour cream)

1. Thaw the frozen peas and reserve 1/8 cup for garnish.
2. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until it foams. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent. Add the peas (except the reserved 1/8 cup), season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute for a minute or two.
3. Transfer the sautéed peas and shallot to a blender or food processor. Add the vegetable broth, ThickenThin, and remaining salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. (At this point, the soup can be held, covered and refrigerated, for up to a day before proceeding.)
4. Return soup to the saucepan, bring it to a boil, and reduce the heat to simmer. Just before serving, stir in the half-and-half and let it come up to temperature. At the last moment before serving stir in the chives.
5. Ladel the soup into bowls; place a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream into the center of each bowl and garnish the cream with a few of the reserved fresh peas.

Protein per serving: 5.4 grams
Effective carb per serving: 8.7 grams


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  1. Dr. Mary Dan, I love pea soup, too…thanks for this recipe!

    One suggestion I’d make, since I don’t use ThickenThin not/starch, and many people are reporting that its nearly impossible to find low carb specialty products in their areas…you could substitute a minute amount (just a pinch) of agar agar or guar gum, readily available in most Asian sections and health food sections/stores of mainstream markets. Or–my personal favorite–use the french chef’s method and cultivate the half and half and sour cream’s natural thickening abilities.

    In step three, just eliminate the ThickenThin.
    In step four, before returning the soup to the saucepan, add in half of the half and half, and simmer until it has thickened enough to coat the spoon and reduced by about 1/4th volume. Now add in the mixture from the blender, and follow directions from that point. The combination of reducing the half and half first, and using the creme fraiche/sour cream to top off right before serving should give a creamy, thickened but not spoon-standing-up consistency.

    If this doesn’t produce a soup thick enough for your taste, reduce *all* of the half and half by as much as 50%, until you can draw a line through the coating on the spoon and the line holds its shape. Top that off with a tablespoon of unsalted butter just prior to adding in the blender mixture–that will thicken things up considerably. 😉

    Again, thanks for such a lovely spring taste…the first local baby peas are just coming into Wegmans produce section as I type.

    COMMENT from MD Eades: Gaelen, thanks for the suggestion–it’s one I should have added myself as an alternative. Reducing half and half for sauces and to thicken soups is truly an easy way (if a tiny bit lengthier) to get the job done. If you do ever need the ThickenThin, it’s available on the website of our cooking show at http://www.lowcarbcookworx.com.

  2. My best spring pea recipe:

    1. plant peas (sugar snap peas are best) as soon as the ground is thawed enough to do so

    2. a few weeks later eat them raw off the vines

    Not at all low-carb friendly though as the vines have no notion of portion control built in. 😉

    COMMENT from MD EADES: I love an easy recipe! This one is almost exactly like my favorite tomato recipe:

    1) Take a salt shaker to the garden
    2) pick a ripe tomato still warmed by the sun
    3) Sprinkle salt onto tomato and eat.

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