Monday, February 27, 2012


When certain events demand that dinner take place in front of the television, we generally turn to soups or stews...basically anything that can be eaten without being at a table. We've also been meaning to try something from a local cookbook, and so here we are with Blue Water Cafe's green pea and butter lettuce soup, with scallops, bacon and croutons.

The disclaimer: while the full recipe follows, there are days (most of them) where laziness wins out, and I only ended up making half of it. No chive creams, no straining (the latter might also be because we don't have a proper sieve). Plus, we really wanted to see what Sacha Baron Cohen was going to do.

Blue Water Cafe's Green Pea and Butter Lettuce Soup

For the soup:

1/4 cup unsalted butter (I used half of that because, well, guilt tends to rest heavily on my conscience)
1 small leek, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 springs thyme, 2 sprigs parsley and 1 sprig tarragon, tied into a bouquet garni
18oz freshly shucked peas and 9oz frozen (we used two small bags of frozen peas instead, given the time of the year)
2 heads of butter lettuce, washed and chopped
1 lb (about 24) swimming scallops (we used a handful of bay scallops for a few reasons: (a) they were waaaaaaay cheaper, and (b) we were thinking about the scallops as more of a garnish than a featured ingredient)(and also because I was feeling too lazy to drive across town for fresh scallops elsewhere)
3oz bacon, diced (we used 2 slices of black forest bacon)
4tbsp olive oil
2 slices white bread, crusts removed and diced (we used East Village Bakery's excellent multigrain bread, because I wasn't about to buy a loaf of white bread just for some croutons)
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp thinly chiffonaded Italian parsley

Melt the butter on medium heat and sweat the leek, onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, then season with salt. Add the chicken stock and the bouquet garni, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the fresh peas and the butter lettuce and cook until the peas or tender (or, if you're like me, add the butter lettuce and the frozen peas). Add the frozen peas (way ahead of you!) and remove from heat. Discard the bouquet garni and puree. If you're not into thick soups, strain through a medium sieve and season with salt and pepper.

If you had fresh scallops, now's the time too cook them and set them aside. If you don't, here's a good time to make the croutons by tossing the bread with 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan until crispy and golden. Remove them onto a kitchen towel to let the oil soak off.

Saute the bacon in the remaining olive oil for a couple minutes. If you already have cooked scallops, add them to toss; we didn't, so I poured off the bacon fat but sauteed the scallops in the same pan. Toss with the green onion, parsley and croutons, and season at will. Serve the soup with the scallop/bacon/crouton mixture spooned on top, and question why Angelina is doing that weird pose every chance she gets.

If you're less superficial than we are and have the will power to shut the television off, then congratulations! You are a better person than I.  For that, you can add a dollop of chive cream to each bowl. All you'll need is to combine 1 cup whipped cream, the zest of half a lime, half a lemon, half an orange, and 2 tbsp of minced chives.

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