I made this soup the other day with the door open a crack. It felt amazing to let a little fresh, slightly warm but still brisk air in. Spring hads been super slooooooooow this year to arrive in nyc, but little by little it is making it's way here. There is a light at the end of this cold, dark tunnel.
When I lived in Florida, I missed the seasons so much. Down there, each season blends into the next, and christmas and easter do not have much to differentiate themselves except for the decor. Living in nyc, there are very defined seasons, dictated by weather, the clothes you wear, and the food that you find at the market. As much as I dislike winter and I get sick of cooking with root vegetables, there is something about enduring those frigid few months that makes you appreciate the sunnier, warmer, spring-vegggie filled days so much more. Since this winter has been particularly cold and long, I am really really anxious for spring to get here already, and even more anxious to get my spring veggie cooking on.
That first pop of green on a tree-lined street, the first time you see an artichoke or a fiddle head fern at the market, the first day you do not have to wear your winter coat …. it's like coming-out of hibernation (or jail, depending on how bad the winter).
It's right around this time where the weather cannot make up it's mind, that I find that a spring soup is most appropriate. It is still brisk enough here to warrant a warming dish, but I was determined to give my soup a little pop of spring. Fresh peas, which are just starting to come around, are one of the first signs of spring here ……. but the great thing about peas is that if you cannot find the fresh ones (or if you're feeling too lazy to de-pod them) there are no shortage of bags of frozen peas in the freezer section.
By the title, this soup may sound fancy and ambitious, but there are more words in the recipe title than there are in ingredients in the soup. The soup itself only uses four ingredients and it's so simple, it only takes about 20 minutes to prepare. The pesto and chickpeas are totally optional but totally recommended, as they elevate this soup and the whole soup eating experience. You might know me well enough by now to know that I will never share a soup recipe that does not have toppings, textures, and a swirl of something delicious. I like to enjoy my soup more as meal than an appetizer, and there is nothing more satisfying to me than a seasonal soup with layers of texture and flavor for lunch or a light dinner.
spring pea miso soup + crispy wasabi chickpeas + dandelion pesto
Just a little note about the wasabi chickpeas. I tested them a few times, and found that the way I share them below (by tossing them with the paste) worked best, but was not perfect. The wasabi flavor is faint, however, I still like the subtle hint of wasabi flavor over the regular roasted chickpea. If you want to play it safe then feel free to ditch the wasabi and just make this a regular roasted chickpea by tossing them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Enjoy!
for the pea miso soup:
1 large leek, sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of peas (fresh or frozen will do)
3 tablespoons of chickpea (or sweet white) miso, dissolved in a couple of tablespoons of water
2 1/2 cups of filtered water
for the chickpeas:
1 15oz can (organic, no-sodium) chickpeas
1 tablespoon of wasabi powder
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil (or a neutral oil)
1 teaspoon of tamari
1 tablespoons of water
for the dandelion pesto:
about 2 cups of dandelion greens, loosely packed
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon of salt
about 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
additional toppings: mircogreen, gomasio
Prep + roast the chickpeas:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the wasabi powder, oil, tamari, black pepper, and water and whisk to combine. You should have a thick paste, but if it's too thick add a little more water. Then add in the chickpeas and toss to coat them evenly.
- Spread the chickpeas onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, until they are brown and crispy. Take the pan out every ten or so minutes and shake them so they do not burn on one side.
Prepare the soup:
- In a medium sized heavy bottom pot, heat the oil over medium-low and then add the leeks. Cook while stirring (to prevent burning) for about 7 minutes. You want the leeks to be soft but be careful they do not burn or else they will taste bitter.
- Add the garlic, and cook for another two minutes. Then add the peas, and the dissolved miso. Give it s stir and then add the water. You want to add just enough water so that the ingredients are covered. I found that 2 1/2 cups was perfect.
- Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes while you prepare the pesto.
Make the pesto:
- Bring a small to medium sized pot of water (that's filled a little more than half way) to a boil. Have a small bowl with ice water nearby. Add in the dandelion greens to the boiling water and blanch for just under 60 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the greens to the ice bath.
- Squeeze the excess water from the green, then add them to a food processor along with the garlic, salt, and pine nuts.
- Pulse a few times until everything is chopped, then add in the olive oil in a continuous stream while the food processor is running. You will have to scrape down the sides about half way through. You want this pesto to be on the thicker side, so stop adding the oil when you feel like it's at the consistency you prefer.
Blend the soup, and assemble:
- When the soup is done simmering, blend it either using an emersion blender or a high-powered blender such as a vitamix. I like to puree about 3/4 of the soup, to leave a little texture, but go ahead and blend as little or as much as you like.
- If you've only blended partially, add the blended soup back to the pot and stir to combine. Then ladle the soup into individual bowls. Top with a spoonful of the pesto, and swirl it to incorporate. Then finish with a small handful of the chickpeas, a pinch of micro greens, and a pinch of gomasio.