This soup might be the only recipe that I can (gratefully) attribute to apathy and laziness. A few weeks ago it was hot. I’m mean hot—high-90’s, height of summer hot. It was a Thursday, and I was having a heck of a time motivating in the kitchen. I knew I had to come up with something for dinner, but the fridge was nearly empty, and I was tired and feeling indifferent—takeout was even too much to bother with. So I sighed, grabbed a yellow squash that had been picked from the garden, snagged two shallots and some garlic from the basement and started chopping. I sautéed the shallots and garlic for a few minutes, threw in the squash and some green onions, then scraped everything in the blender with still-frozen peas (did I mention I was tired?) and a handful of garden mint. After buzzing everything until smooth, I tossed the whole thing in the fridge over a bowl of ice and went to pick up Ella from school. When we returned, the soup had chilled, and, to my surprise, it was refreshing, creamy and reviving. I was inspired. I drizzled the soup with my best extra virgin olive oil then sprinkled it with sea salt, finely chopped pistachios and lemon zest. I assembled some simple crostini to serve alongside, and by the time James got home, dinner had turned into an elegant affair. It was a far cry from our subpar pizza joint or Thai takeout. It proves that sometimes a few simple ingredients can be transformed into much more than the sum of their parts.
Oh, and by the way, this soup is also tasty warm if you’re not stuck in a mid-summer heat wave.
Chilled Pea, Squash & Mint Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots , thinly sliced (about 2/3 cup sliced)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves , thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow squash , diced
- 2 scallions , thinly sliced (white and green parts)
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil for serving
- Flaky sea salt for serving
- Finely chopped pistachios for serving (optional)
- Lemon zest for serving (optional)
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots start to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring 30 seconds. Slide in the yellow squash and scallions and add another pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a blender and add the peas (they can still be frozen), mint, cayenne and 1 cup of water. Blend until completely smooth. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; give it another buzz. Taste and add additional lemon juice and/or salt if it tastes flat (I prefer it to have a zing from the lemon). Blend once more.
- To chill the soup quickly, put it in a medium bowl and nestle that bowl in a larger bowl filled partially with ice and water. Cover and refrigerate 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice. OR, if you’re not in a rush, put the soup in the fridge (you can even leave it in the blender pitcher) for about 2 hours, or until chilled.
- To serve, drizzle the soup with good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. If you wish, garnish with chopped pistachios and lemon zest.