Fresh pea soup with gremolata

Makes 4 ½ cups – 4 servings

When we think of “pea soup,” we usually think of a slow-cooked soup made with dried split peas and flavored with ham. This vegetarian version, made with frozen fresh peas, is smoother in texture and fresher and sweeter in flavor; plus, it’s much quicker to prepare. Garnish the servings with a topping adapted from a traditional Italian gremolda, a mixture often served over osso buco, which adds contrasting colors, texture, and a fresh minty flavor.

For the soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or canola oil
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bag (16 ounces) frozen baby peas
1 cup milk
¼ cup sweet vermouth, Gewürztraminer, or other medium-bodied, sweet and fruity white wine
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Dash of ground white pepper, or to taste

For the gremolata

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup diced plum tomato
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Melt the butter or heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery and onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; stir constantly for about 1 minute.

Stir in the vegetable stock and peas. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 5 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

In several batches, puree the pea-stock mixture in a blender until smooth.

Return the soup to the pan. Stir in the milk, vermouth, sugar, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Warm, stirring constantly, over medium heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

While the soup is rewarming, stir together the gremolata ingredients in a small bowl.

Top each serving with a heaping tablespoon of the gremolata.