Monday, April 4, 2016

Springing into Blue Podded Pea Soup

The beautiful blue podded peas are just 4-5" tall in the garden, now! We've been growing the Capucijner peas for several years. Hardy, beautiful, productive and edible as shoots, blossoms and dried peas, what is not to love?

Well, the reason I have them, is that my friend, Alison, another inveterate gardener, did not find them to her liking..."tough, too little return for the space and I plant peas to eat peas", she said, "not soup months later!"

I was more than happy to receive the small handful, that was Alison's entire harvest, some 5 years ago! The bi-color, tasty edible flowers and the blue pods fascinate me. The bonus...being an open-pollinated heirloom this pea is easy to grow and fun to save from year to year. I jumped at this opportunity to travel with the blue podded pea for a spell...

Blue pea shoots moving to earth...

Leeks, lovage and sorrel with Blue Pea seed from Ed Hume

Ready to learn more about the flavor and eating qualities of this Pisum sativa cv, I set a cup of peas to soak for cooking into soup. The dried peas are really hard and need an overnight soak to thoroughly soften while cooking. It took a few tries as we were getting acquainted. At first, I did not care for the toughness either. Now, I appreciate how coaxing tenderness out with long soaking really helps.

Lots of food fun in here!

After a visit to a fun French cookbook by Ginette Mathiot on loan from my friend, Johnnie; I headed out with basket in hand. Ginette's recommended leeks, lovage and sorrel are robust in their spring vigor in the dooryard garden and ready to join the peas simmering in the pot with onion...

Let's take a quick look at the herbs growing in the garden close to the house filled with quick and tasty fruits and vegetables and fragrant, colorful flowers.

Tiny leeks ready to plant
Leeks ready for soup!

Leek, in the allium cultivar group Allium ampeloprasum, can be easily grown from seed or you might find seedlings at your local nursery in pots. To plant seedling leeks, cut roots and tops back by half and then plant out in a nurse bed 2" apart in each direction. There, they grow until the size of a fat pencil. Next, transplant out 6-8" apart in their final site, dust with a thin top dressing of compost, water in, mulch and let grow on through fall and winter for spring eating. Leeks are hardy plants and a renowned symbol of the tenacity of the Welsh people, those folks from whence my ancestors came!

Lovage early spring growth
Lovage, Levisticum officinale, a member of the edible branch of the Apiaceae family,  an old-fashioned herb rarely seen in gardens today. Lovage is a reliable, hardy perennial with a flavor reminiscent of celery but more intense. At 6'-8' with interesting, textured foliage, lovage is a structural element for the back of the garden as well as a tasty addition to soups and stews. Lovage leaf, stalk, root and seed have been used in many cuisines throughout North America, Europe and Asia for centuries. While an interesting taste to brighten spring cooking after winter's heavy foods, remember, lovage's aromatic character reminds us to use a light hand in recipes...

Sorrel, Rumex acetosa

Sorrel, Rumex acetosa or her dainty wild cousin, Rumex acetosella carry the refreshing, sour taste raw or cooked to spring meals. An easy, carefree perennial, sorrel is a reliable addition to the table come spring. Fresh and light in flavor, this plant is a steadfast member of the dooryard. The sour taste has a cooling, moistening effect in the body making sorrels tasty, fare for encouraging the spring rhythms of clearing and lightening winter from our bodies as we prepare for the warm, movement filled season ahead!

Sorrel turned out to be the secret ingredient in the adventure of finding a Springing into Blue Podded Pea Soup recipe!

While I'm enjoying this conversation, a goat hoof needs tending. It won't be long, come back and sit a spell for the recipe and the next episode of Springing Into Blue Pea Soup...

Until can read more about peas and, in particular,
Capucijner Blue Podded Peas here...

Make time to go outside and play! If play doesn't cause Spring Fever, then it's a sure cure!!