Serves 4 to 6
This delicious soup is was found in The Virginia Housewife, a cookbook written in 1824 by Thomas Jefferson’s first cousin, Mary Randolph, and in journals of his daughter, Martha. It is considered to have been one of his favorite dishes. It is known that Jefferson was very fond of peas and grew over thirty verities at Monticello. Recipes of the period for soups made from dried peas are numerous; however this recipe calling for fresh peas is rare. Obviously the recipe has been adapted to take advantage of modern equipment and products. As brilliant and inventive as Jefferson was, I sincerely doubt there was an electric blender in the kitchen at Monticello.
2 tablespoons of butter
1 or 2 shallots, minced
4 cups of Chicken Stock or 2, 14.5-ounce cans (Vegetarians and Vegans use Court Bouillon )
1, 16-ounce package frozen peas, or equivalent in hulled fresh
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1 grinding of nutmeg
1 tablespoon Chiffonade of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of cream
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
In a large pot, melt the butter and gently sauté the shallots until pinkish and translucent, but not yet browned. Add the chicken stock or broth, peas, sugar, nutmeg and mint and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat immediately to a simmer and continue cooking until the peas are soft. If using frozen this will only take two to three minutes. If using fresh it will take about twenty minutes. Using an immersible or traditional blender, turn the mixture into a puree. Add the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer gently until hot through. Serve hot or iced with a garnish of fresh mint leaves.