|Spring Pea Avgolomeno|
The beauty of cooking with ingredients that are freshest in the Spring months are their pure simplicity. The standout flavours are the fresh, natural ingredients themselves... the pop of a freshly shelled pea or the bite of arugula. Top poached halibut with a citrusy vinaigrette and serve with asparagus sautéed in a bit of olive oil and topped with a dash of sea salt or sauté fresh peas with spring onions in butter and delicate chervil for a side that is surprisingly ripe with flavour.
|Door with bouganvillea|
During our time on the island I discovered culinary delights such as freshly caught seafood and Santorini’s cherry tomatoes, incredibly sweet from the harsh sun and dark volcanic soil. Greek wine is something top international restaurants have already cottoned onto, but, I was pleased to discover some excellent local wines from Santorini at every restaurant.
Back here in British Columbia a sure sign of Spring is the resurrection of fresh peas which brings us to todays soup with a Greek twist. This is not what we usually think of as pea soup; instead, it’s a light broth with whole peas finished with the lemon and egg yolk mixture known in Greek cuisine as avgolemono.
When you find fresh, tender peas in the pod, by all means use them, the rest of the time, use petite peas frozen at their peak of perfection. Other bright green seasonal vegetables will also work in this avgolomeno, visually as well as in terms of flavour. Try blanched and peeled fava beans, sliced asparagus, baby spinach, or quarter or half slices of slender zucchini. When reheating this soup, warm it over low heat without bringing it to a boil, to prevent the eggs from curdling.
I was reminded of Santorini and a restaurant run by a woman who lived in the States for 16 years. She had the largest menu of any restaurant I have seen to this day. There were at least 30 different items served with avgolomeno from cabbage rolls to lamb. Mama also served up a North American style breakfast. I had blueberry pancakes and bacon which was a welcome change when I tired of the Greek style breakfast they serve for tourists.
Santorini casts its spell. It has an attraction that only people who have ever been there can describe. There is part of you that senses something isn’t right when you return back home. The environment, the people, I don’t know what it is. The atmosphere is magical and the perfect place to start a sojourn in Greece.
**Spring Pea Avgolemono**
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium leek, white parts finely chopped
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
4 cups chicken broth
2 large eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice (juice and zest of 1 lemon)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, a pinch of salt and pepper; cover and cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until vegetables are softened, stirring often.
Stir in broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Add the peas to the stock and cook just until tender (frozen peas are already tender and just need to be heated through). Add dill, parsley and lemon zest. Remove from heat.
Whisk together eggs and lemon juice in a bowl. Add 3 ladles soup broth to egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour the mixture into the soup. The egg will cook in a few seconds, thickening the soup slightly. Ladle the soup into cups or bowls and serve immediately.
You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.