Saturday, January 21, 2023

I made Ina Garten’s pea soup and it definitely won’t be the last

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Ina Garten’s Pea Soup is just one of her many Barefoot Contessa soups. Ever since I first did it, I’ve kept coming back to it. While I love Garten’s chicken dishes as much as the next Barefoot Contessa fan, it’s what convinced me not to sleep on their soups. In advance, details of my experience with the preparation of Garten’s pea soup.

This probably won’t surprise anyone familiar with Garten’s approach to food, but Parker’s Pea Soup, as the dish is officially called, is easy to make. It’s not much more than gathering the 10 ingredients together and roughly chopping a few things.

Following Garten’s instructions, I started with the onions and garlic. I chopped yellow onions and minced garlic before tossing them in a large pot with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. While they were sautéing (about 15 minutes), I chopped carrots and potatoes, stopping every now and then to stir the pot.

Next I added the carrots, potatoes, peas and chicken broth, brought it to a boil and then simmered, per Garten’s directions. About 40 minutes later, after stirring a few more times to prevent sticking, I tossed in the rest of the peas while the soup cooked for another 40 minutes.

Now for some things I learned from making Garten’s Pea Soup. Keep an eye on the onions and garlic as you fry them. The bulbs can go from “translucent” as the garden calls for them to brown or burn very quickly.

Another thing: note that more chicken broth or water (Garten says either is fine) may be needed. My pea soup got very thick. So I added a splash more to prevent sticking and give it a soupy consistency. I’ve also found that even with leftovers, it’s necessary to add more liquid.

Finally, Garten advises skimming off any foam during the cooking process. Since I’ve only ever noticed a little bit of foam that I found too tedious to remove, I’ll skip this step.

Like many of their other dishes, Garten’s Pea Soup lends itself to substitutions. No red boiled potatoes at home? Try butternut squash. I’ve done this on more than a few occasions with good results.

I also prepared the soup with variations of the ingredients. I used baby carrots instead of whole (they will take a little longer to chop but will do in a moment), white and red onions instead of yellow ones, and veggie broth instead of chicken.

When the soup is ready, I like to use an immersion blender for a few seconds – totally optional.

Overall, I love Garten’s Pea Soup and everyone I make it for, too. Much like their brownie pudding, I keep coming back to this because it’s easy to make and substitution-friendly.

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