Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pea, Lettuce & Fennel Soup with Asparagus Mimosa: Healthy Green Duo for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

A healthy and gorgeously green duo made up of two recipes that I was tempted to try based on their combination of ingredients. First, the Pea, Lettuce & Fennel Soup, a Giada De Laurentiis recipe that I saw her make on her show a while back. I am fond of fennel and I thought that the contrast of its mild licorice flavor with the sweetness of the peas would be interesting. Then, my love of anything with capers pulled me to Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for Asparagus Mimosa from his "Plenty" cookbook. Capers paired with eggs, on top of tender-crisp asparagus sounded like a winner to me. This pairing may have a slight spring-ish feel, but since I was able to use all locally grown veggies (except for the frozen peas) and eggs, it transcends the season. 

I made a couple of changes to the soup (noted in red below)--swapping out the butter of 1/3 the amount of olive oil, using veggie broth instead of chicken, and using local Manoa butter lettuce.

Pea, Lettuce & Fennel Soup
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network
(Makes 4 Servings)

3 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used 1 Tbsp olive oil)
2 small shallots, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium head Bibb lettuce, cut into 1/2-inch strips (I used Manoa butter lettuce)
One 10-oz package frozen petite peas (about 2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth, plus extra, as needed (I used veggie broth)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds

Melt the butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and fennel. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 the teaspoon pepper. Cover the saucepan and cook until almost tender, stirring occasionally, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lettuce and toss until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the peas, broth, 1 cup water and fennel seeds. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, 5 to 6 minutes.

In a blender, blend the soup, 1 cup at a time, until smooth. Pour the soup back into the saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Thin out the soup by adding 1 tablespoon of extra broth at a time, if needed.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. 

Ottolenghi says, "This traditional way with asparagus is probably my favourite. It is simple and therefore relies on the quality of the asparagus itself more then anything else. See if you can get the spears from a farmers' market or the shop at a farm where they have been freshly picked. Roughly chopped tarragon sprinkled on top will make a good addition."
Asparagus Mimosa
From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
(Serves 4 as a Starter)

2 eggs
2 bunches of medium asparagus
2 tbsp best-quality olive oil
2 tsp small capers, drained
1 tsp sea salt
black pepper

Gently place your eggs in a saucepan of boiling water and simmer for 9 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan and immerse them in a large bowl of cold water. After a few minutes, take them out of the water and leave to cool down completely. Peel the eggs and grate them on a coarse cheese grater.

Bend the asparagus until the tough bottom ends snap off; discard the ends. Place the spears in a large pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, or until tender. It may take slightly longer if they are thick.

Drain and, while still warm but not hot, divide among four serving plates. Drizzles the oil over the asparagus and sprinkle with the capers, salt and some pepper. Top with the grated egg, staying close to the centre of the stalks so that the tips and bases remain visible.

Notes/Results:  First the soup--thick, creamy and full of good flavor. It's a little sweet, crisp and green and then the fabulous fennel flavor from both the bulb and the seeds kicks in at the end. Easy to make and satisfying. This is a great soup to enjoy in a cup or small bowl along with a sandwich or salad like the Asparagus Mimosa. Such great flavor from just a few ingredients. The egg and caper mix is perfect both in flavor and texture as an asparagus topping--although it is a little messy to eat. ;-) Paired with the soup, it makes a great light lunch or dinner. I would make both of these recipes again.

Sneaking in at the last minute for this weeks Eggscellent! theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs. You can check out all the egg-filled dishes that everyone made by going to the post and following the links.

We have some scrumptious salads waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week. Let's take a look.

Sandra from meadows cooks is here with pretty Orange Walnut Salad with Orange-Basil Dressing and says, "If you're like me summer time is full of salads. No cooking, watery fresh, perfect for hot, hot days. If you're also like me you usually do the same old salad, bland romaine lettuce and balsamic vinegar every time. Laziness? Yes, summer makes me lazy. It is a good stand by but a bit boring. Why not brighten up your salad with some sunny fruit? Add a little goat cheese (nothing isn't better with goat cheese on it) and some walnuts and you have a festive treat. On a weekday. You can't beat that."

Graziana of Erbe in Cucina shares this fruity and minty Watermelon Salad with Spearmint and says, "This year I'm growing spearmint, a pleasant variety of mint, with rounded and slightly fleshy leaves, and strong and yet delicate aroma. I added spearmint to this watermelon and balsamic vinegar salad, and even my son enjoyed it."

Janet from The Taste Space brings Easy Cheezy Chickpea Salad from her pantry and says, "This salad is almost too simple. Only four ingredients, or five if you include salt or pepper. Chickpeas, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and leafy greens. Definitely more than the sum of its parts. The lemon juice is tart and the nutritional yeast tames it into a creamy dressing. Marinade the chickpeas and use the extra sauce to toss with your favourite leafy greens."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week! 


  1. I am still adjusting to the new season for fruits and vegetables here... local asparagus at this time of year is awesome... although I don't think Texas grows it.... but it is so much nicer to be closer to California and Florida. :)

  2. I love the vibrant green in both dishes. Let's me know these dishes are both fresh and bright before I even taste them. I'm particularly interested in the capers paired with egg and asparagus. Capers do wonderful things!

  3. Couscous & ConsciousnessJuly 28, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Capers, eggs and asparagus sounds like a marriage made in heaven to me, and with spring just around the corner in my part of the world, this is one I'll definitely be making very soon.

    Love the flavours in the soup too, as well as your gorgeous photos.

  4. Such a beautiful and healthful meal! All the green would make me so content!

  5. This version of asparagus mimosa sounds delicious, especially because of the capers. Love them!

  6. The color of the soup is beautiful!


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