Well Dined


Peas and Carrots


You know that Forrest Gump quote, "Jenny and me was like peas and carrots."?  I could not stop saying that while making and eating this dinner.  The classic duo of peas and carrots, back together again in the form of soup and risotto.


This pea soup has a base of English peas, sugar snap peas, and leeks.  So much green!


But more importantly, it has bacon.  You start by crisping the bacon and removing it.  Then, in the same pan, you cook celery, onion, and leek in the bacon fat before adding chicken stock and rosemary.  Meanwhile, blanch the peas.


Remove the rosemary, remove the veggies and the peas to a blender to puree, then combine with the broth and allow to cool, then chill.  Yes, this is meant to be a cold soup and I think the contrast of cold soup and hot risotto is fun.  But if you don't like cold soups, it is also very tasty warm.  Oh yeah, and it's served with a garlic-rosemary infused cream and more bacon.  What?!  Yes.


This blurry picture is the only one I took of the risotto - oops!  But it is amazingly good.  Like, this might be my standard go to risotto from now on level of good.  It's really the same as basic risotto with some carrot juice and a big hit of lemon.  Nothing fancy, no extra prep steps.  But it is so tangy and awesome and if you put bacon on top you just might die from deliciousness.  You can find pure carrot juice bottled at the store with the other juices (the fancy glass bottle kind that aren't refrigerated), or you can make your own if you have a juicer.  The bottle was pretty big and I only needed a half cup for this recipe, so I ended up putting it into my morning smoothie instead of coconut water.  Sometimes I did spinach, too, sometimes just the carrot.  It goes really well with almond flavoring.  For my smoothie recipe, click here.

Chilled Spring Pea Soup with Bacon
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 8 (I halved it when I made it)

8 slices of bacon
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
2 4in rosemary sprigs
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/2 lb sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
2 10oz boxes frozen baby peas
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, minced

In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes.  Transfer the bacon to a plate.  Pour off the fat in the pot, leaving a thin coating in the bottom of the pot.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the celery, onion, and leek and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, 4 slices of the cooked bacon, 1 rosemary sprig and a pinch each of salt and white pepper.  Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.  Discard the bacon and rosemary.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Add the sugar snaps and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the frozen baby peas and the parsley and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute; drain.  Add the sugar snaps, baby peas and parsley to the blender and puree until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the broth to loosen the mixture.  Combine the puree and the remaining broth in a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water and allow to cool.

In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream, garlic and remaining rosemary sprig to a boil.  Simmer over low heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.  Strain the garlic cream into a bowl and let cool.

Ladle the chilled pea soup into bowls and drizzle with the garlic cream.  Crumble the remaining 4 slices of bacon into each bowl and serve.

Cook's note: The soup and cream can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days.

Carrot-Lemon Risotto
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I use stock)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice (or barley, if you want)
1/2 cup dry white wine (my favorite is Pinot Grigio)
1/2 cup carrot juice
2 tbsp (1/4 oz) grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a simmer; reduce heat and keep warm.  In a heavy bottomed pot (cast iron works great), heat 2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat.  Add shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice is translucent at edges, 1 minute.

Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 2 minutes.  With a ladle, add about 1 cup broth to skillet.  Cook, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed, 4 minutes.  Repeat, gradually adding broth by the cupful and stirring constantly, until rice is tender but still al dente and sauce is creamy (you may not need all of broth), 20 to 25 minutes.  Add carrot juice and stir until absorbed, 4 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in remaining 2 tbsp butter, Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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