Kurt Gutenbrunner’s Recipe for Spring Pea Soup With Mint
Fresh mint brings a pleasant edge to a soup of sweet spring peas in this recipe from chef Kurt Gutenbrunner of Manhattan’s Wallsé
By Kitty Greenwald in the Wall Street Journal
The Chef: Kurt Gutenbrunner
His Restaurants: Wallsé, Café Sabarsky, Blaue Gans and Upholstery Store: Food and Wine; all in New York City.
What he is known for: Bringing equal parts indulgence and Viennese refinement to New York City. Creating restaurant spaces that deliver fine art and fine food.
NO ASSUMPTION ABOUT Austrian food galls Kurt Gutenbrunner more than the one that says it’s all heavy and stodgy. Visitors to his Manhattan restaurants find something altogether lighter and fresher on offer. “I grew up on the Danube with a big vegetable garden and apple trees, and that’s where we would get our food,” he said. “After a long winter, there would be peas. For me there is still nothing better than taking peas right out of their shells and eating them raw, when they are small and so sweet.”
With this recipe, Mr. Gutenbrunner’s second Slow Food Fast contribution, the chef captures the essence of that first bite of the season with a velvety spring pea soup garnished with a dollop of crème fraîche, a scattering of fresh mint and a few whole peas, for textural contrast. “After each spoonful you want more because each taste is like you are eating a spoonful of the freshest, sweetest peas,” he said.
A light touch is the hallmark of the best Austrian cooking, the chef said: “It’s our job in the kitchen not to destroy an ingredient’s natural flavors but instead to home in on them.” Here he adds mint at two different points. The first handful—added when the peas are stewing along with a bit of garlic, olive oil and broth—releases its flavor as it cooks and infuses the other ingredients. Then, just before serving, a hit of raw mint gives the soup a bracing herbal kick. Mr. Gutenbrunner also finds the youngest peas available and cooks them only as long as he has to, so they retain their bright color and flavor—the next best thing to eating them straight out of the shell.
Spring Pea Soup With Mint
Total Time: 15 minutes Serves: 2-4
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 3¼ cups shelled fresh peas
- 2 heads spring garlic or 1½ cloves regular garlic, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to garnish
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup mint leaves, tough stems discarded and leaves roughly chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 4 tablespoons crème fraîche
1. Bring stock to a simmer in a small pot over medium heat.
2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, combine 3 cups peas, garlic, a pinch of salt and olive oil, then ladle in enough hot stock to just cover peas. Braise peas at a gentle simmer until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Stir about ¾ of mint into peas, and continue to simmer until peas are plump and just tender, about 1 minute more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Transfer pea mixture and pan drippings to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. If soup is too thick, with motor running, slowly pour more hot stock into blender, adding just enough to reach desired consistency. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
4. Divide soup among four bowls. Garnish with remaining raw peas, mint, a drizzle of olive oil and dollops of crème fraîche.
And here is one more recipe:
Pea, Lettuce and Celery Soup (source of recipe unknown)
Total Time: 35 minutes Serves: 8
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 leek, cut into small pieces and rinsed in several changes of cool water
- 2 sticks celery, cut into small pieces
- 1 medium onion, finely sliced
- 4 cups boiling vegetable stock, plus more to thin, if needed
- 1¼ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground white or black pepper, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon sugar, plus more to taste
- 2 (14-16-ounce) bags frozen peas, thawed
- Leaves from 1 head Bibb or 1 small head Boston lettuce
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup heavy cream or half and half
- Fried diced chorizo, pancetta, bacon or prosciutto, for garnish (optional)
- Small croutons, for garnish (optional)
- Chopped toasted hazelnuts, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat oil and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, celery and onions, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add boiling vegetable stock, salt, pepper and sugar to pan and return to boil. Cook until slightly reduced, 8 minutes more. Add peas and simmer until heated through, 2 minutes more.
2. Off heat, add lettuce, parsley and mint to soup. Use a blender to purée until very smooth. Adjust seasoning as needed.
3. Return soup to heat. Stir in cream. If too thick, stir in a little more hot stock. Ladle soup into heated bowls and serve immediately. If desired, garnish each portion with fried diced chorizo, pancetta, bacon, prosciutto, croutons and/or chopped, toasted hazelnuts.
1) Substitute freely. Better to feed something than nothing at all.
2) Use what you have on hand.
3) For example, if you don’t have sugar, use some honey if you have it.
4) For another example, if you don’t have a blender, use something else like a clean towel or T-shirt to wrap the food and then beat it with something like a hammer.
5) Use multi-vitamins and minerals to supplement your meal if you think you need to do so. Cut up any pill as you deem fit. Use a pill cutter if need be. Get a second opinion if you think that is wise.