Fresh Green Pea Potage
2 leeks, white parts only, tough leaves removed
(or substitute 1 bunch green onions or 1 large spring onion)
3 pounds fresh peas in pods, or 40 ounces frozen peas, or a combination of both
2 - 3 sprigs thyme
2 - 3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or grapeseed oil
6 cups water
1 tablespoon honey
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 - 3 tablespoons heavy cream, optional
Sour cream, yogurt or creme fraiche, optional
1. Wash your hands then gather all the ingredients and put them in front of you on the counter.
Notice the shape and color of the pea pods. Pick one up and feel it in your hand. Hold it up to the light and see its translucency. Eat a fresh pea out of the pod. Be aware of the texture and feeling in your mouth.
2. If you are using fresh peas, lightly rinse and drain the pods before opening them. Remove the peas from the pods and put aside. If you are making a lot of soup, you may want to combine fresh peas and frozen ones. Of all the frozen vegetables, peas seem best at keeping their integrity intact.
Notice what is happening in your mind. Do you have a sense of anticipation? Are you thinking, what's the big deal; it's just a pea.
Let your thoughts come and go.
3. Wash the white part of the leeks well: make two crossing slices along the length, creating a sort of brush, and wash well between the layers. Slice into ½-inch pieces.
Notice your posture while cutting.
4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and saute until translucent, but not brown. Add the peas, reserving 1 cup. Add the thyme, bay leaves, and 6 cups of water.
Listen for the sound of sizzle when you add ingredients, it lets you know the oil is the right temperature. Crush the thyme in your hands and smell its oils.
Bring to a boil; then simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let steep for about 20 minutes. The peas will lose their bright color if you cook them for too long.
Take a moment to pay attention to what you are thinking about. Are you absorbed and relaxed or distracted?
5. Take out the thyme and bay leaves. Puree the mixture in a blender; then strain through a fine sieve. Using a wooden spoon, push the peas through; discard the remains. You should have a very smooth puree that is quite dense. If too thick, add a bit more water. (Up to this point the soup can be made the day before and refrigerated.)
6. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat slowly over medium-low heat. Stir in the honey and taste for seasoning. Add the cup of reserved peas. Be careful not to burn it. If you like, stir in a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream while heating.
As you taste, notice the burst of flavor. Experience the taste. Is it sweet, bitter, salty? What is the texture like in your mouth? Has it been cooked enough? What would you add?
7. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, yogurt, or creme fraiche. Garnish, if you wish, with some chopped chives, parsley, julienne sorrel, a thin-sliced and lightly grilled scallop, or a flurry of toasted ground cumin or freshly ground black pepper.
Dip your spoon into the hot soup and lift into your mouth. Notice how the flavor changes from one mouthful to the next. You could easily eat an entire bowl without even tasting it if you don't pay attention. Don't get lost in thinking about the next thing to eat. In the midst of eating this are you lost in craving? Are you thinking, "Oh, if only this was Matzo Ball soup, then I would be happy!" Try to stay with your experience of tasting and eating this soup.
When you have finished your meal, take a few moments to get in touch with a sense of cultivating health in nourishing your body and sharing food. You might offer the merit of this delicious practice to others. I'm told that the one who cleans up receives all the blessings.