Dana Slatkin

Fresh Spring Pea Soup with Fennel and Chives

cold pea soup

Photo credit: williamssonoma.com

Adapted from Shutters On The Beach

When I met my husband twenty years ago, I was fresh out of cooking school and working my first restaurant manager job at L’Orangerie in Los Angeles. My husband and his brother had just inked a deal on a half-built beach hotel that needed a roof, thousands of new sheets, and an identity. We were young and ambitious, eager to please.

A year later, when Shutters On The Beach opened its doors in 1993, I remember tasting a fresh pea soup at a table overlooking the sea. The peas came from the Santa Monica Farmers Market just down the street, all grassy and new, perfumed simply with fresh mint, some salty air and sweet beach breezes.

It was one of those meals that became a signpost for me, a verdant bowl of nature-sourced goodness that tasted of exuberance, possibility, and idealism. Many menus and milestones later, fresh pea soup reappeared on the menu at Shutters this month. It was as bright and promising as I remembered, spiked with mint, basil, and refreshing fennel.

Over the years, my perspective — along with my cooking — has evolved. I’m no longer in a hurry to grow up or prove myself. I crave those little moments with big flavor – a memorable meal with my husband, an inspiring chat with a dear friend, a family trip to a new destination.

In honor of Shutters’ 20th anniversary this June, I am teaching a class with some of my favorite recipes from our beachside hotel. This is one of them. There’s no chopping involved, the soup cooks in ten minutes, and it can be served hot or chilled.

This time I’ve added my own voice, with hints of cumin and pickled ginger for spice and sweetness. Fresh pea soup still evokes for me the green exuberance of beginnings…only now it’s simmered with a sprinkling of experience.

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