My friend John (from the Bartolini Kitchens) did a post on June 6 for Straw and Hay Pasta including fresh peas that were shelled. It was that vivid picture that John painted sitting at the kitchen table, shelling the peas that brought back such fond memories of my childhood that I had to recreate the recipe that his story conjured: Hungarian Sweet Green Pea Soup with Dumplings — Zold Borsóleves. I didn’t search the internet nor did I look at my mom’s recipe book as that would have been futile, my Mom cooked from memory and instinct. It used to drive my Dad crazy; she would make something he thought was delicious and he’d say, “this is delicious, did you write it down?” And she’d wave him away and say “no, but I can recreate it”. But it was never the same. It could have been our memory of the dish, or that she added a pinch of this or a pinch of that, and on this round may have gotten missed. At any rate, there is no recipe. I haven’t had this soup in over…(oops, there, I almost spilled the beans), in many, many years, but I have recreated it to my best recollection. And as I sat in the kitchen, eating this soup, I felt like I was 10 years old, sitting at the formica top and aluminum lip edge kitchen table. Thanks John.
This is a simple soup dictated only by the simple ingredients. Just water is used as the stock, to allow the sweetness of the peas to come through. After I made the soup, I did search the net to discover people put in carrots, potato, celery root, etc, but our’s was just peas, onion and garlic. My mom also used the young pods in the soup by carefully removing the hard membrane from the inside of the pod after it has been shelled. You can do this by bending the tip in toward the inside of the pod until the exterior cracks, and carefully peel the membrane away. It is hard and plastic-y, you won’t be able to eat it, so make sure you remove it entirely. Or you can just drop the spent pods into the soup for flavour and fish them out before serving.
Even though I pictured the dumplings made with Quinoa flour, I wish I had splurged and made white flour dumplings. The quinoa was OK, but it certainly didn’t have the bite and chewiness that the normal dumplings had. If I were to do it again, regular white flour dumplings. Although, I must say the quinoa made it a filling dinner.
Hungarian Sweet Green Pea Soup with Dumplings — Zold Borsóleves
Serves 2 as an appetizer or lunch, or one good-sized bowl for dinner
- 1/3 cup white flour (I used quinoa flour but it didn’t turn out as well)
- 1 large egg or egg white equivalent
- 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
- 12-15 fresh green peas, shelled and pods prepared
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 300 mL water
- non-stick cooking spray
- Salt to taste
- Shell peas and remove membrane from pods. Roughly chop pods into bite sized pieces.
- Mix the flour and the egg in a small cup. The mixture should be thick so you can pinch small bits off and it doesn’t stick to your spoon (in fact, the chewier you like your dumplings, the thicker the dough should be). Set aside.
- Coat the bottom of a soup pan with a good spray of non-stick spray and sauté the onions until translucent (you may need to add a bit of water to help it along). Add the garlic and cook until you can smell the wonderful aroma. Add the pods (not the peas) and cover with 300 mL water. Salt and taste, adding more as required (I ended up adding a good pinch — it should not taste salty, it should just bring out the flavours of this simple soup: peas, onions and garlic).
- Bring to a boil and begin ‘pinching’ the dumplings into the boiling water. I used a small spoon which worked out to about 1/2 tsp size (or you can roll the dough into a narrow roll and cut with a knife) the dumplings will grow because of the egg. Add the peas and give give it a stir. Cook on boil for an additional minute until all the dumplings float to the top.
- Serve immediately on your favourite Hungarian placemat. Sigh and enjoy the memories.