Thursday, May 7, 2015

Chilled Parsley Pea Soup

Imagine jumping off a dock into a cold clear lake on a hot July day. The water at first surprises you and then refreshes you in the best possible way. All you want to do is jump in again and again and again.

That, my friends, is what this soup tastes like. Or so decided my dinner guests after their first few bites the other night.

"Wow. I'm just going to sit back," groaned one friend. "I don't even like peas," stated another, looking into my eyes with all sincerity. "I actually hate peas. But this?" He signed. "This!"
The final accolade captured it for all of us, "Hands down, best soup I've ever had. Seriously, ever."

Who knew this simple concoction of peas and parsley and lemon could elicit such emotion? It's so so easy to make, surprisingly healthy, and, as already explained, insanely delicious.

I served this soup as the third course in a spring-themed celebratory five-part eating extravaganza (cheese and fruit plate, assorted amuse bouches, soup, salmon, cheesecake). We were celebrating the end of grad school, the 36th and final Wednesday Dinner Party, and our general love for one another.

I made the soup the night before, and I think that is CRITICAL. It needs time to sit and for the flavors to make friends with each other.

Without further ado, here you go. Eat this like we did, as a light appetizer course, or a summertime lunch on your back porch, or serve it with crusty bread and cheese and call it dinner in and of itself. Whatever you do, make this -- you will not regret it.

Chilled Parsley and Pea Soup

aks "Zapasoup"
Serves 8 (though I served 12 appetizer-sized servings)


  • splash olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions 
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • sea salt
  • 2 lb. shelled peas (frozen is fine -- so two bags)
  • 2 cups flat leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
  • 6-8 cups vegetable broth (depends on how thick you want it) -- and I'll be honest, I used water and vegetable bouillon cubes. 
  • zest and juice of of 1 lemon 
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • fresh ground pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • another splash olive oil


  1. Ideally you should make this one day in advance. 
  2. Roughly chop the onions and mince the garlic.
  3. In a large pot, heat a generous slash of olive oil. Add onions and a couple pinches of salt, stir to coat, cook for 5-10 minutes until onions become translucent and start to brown. Add garlic, stir to coat, cook three minutes.
  4. Add 6 cups hot vegetable broth, add peas, bring to a simmer and turn off the heat. Add parsley and fold in to wilt leaves. 
  5. Let the soup cool for 15 minutes. Add half and half, pepper, and a splash of olive oil. Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender) to blend the soup on high until smooth. Add more broth if needed. Add in lemon zest and juice. 
  6. Let the soup chill in the fridge overnight. Before serving, blend it again if it's looking not quite smooth enough.
  7. Serve cold or room temperature. Swoon. 

*Beautiful soup photo by the talented Jon White.