a simple meal in a heat wave! . . .
Years ago, I had lunch at “The Tea Box” a bento box restaurant inside Takishimaya, a jewel of a department store in New York City. The restaurant is closed now, but fortunately, the chef, Ellen Greaves published a cookbook called “Simple Meals for the Bento Box” I have two copies of the book here and have also given copies of the book as gifts. In it, there is a recipe for a pea soup that we enjoyed ourselves at the restaurant when it was still open. It’s on the stove now, waiting for final preparations right before serving.
Sweet Pea Soup (adapted from cookbook above):
Heat one cup of chicken broth plus one cup of spring water in a pot on the stove. Rinse a package of snap peas (8 ounces) and put in the broth when it’s boiling. Simmer gently for one minute. Add a 16 ounce package of frozen petite sweet peas into the broth. Simmer for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Leave it alone until dinnertime.
Finishing steps; spoon out drained peapods and peas into a food processor. Add the broth liquid and puree until smooth. Be sure to put the soup through a fine sieve, stirring to allow as much liquid through as possible. If not put through a sieve, the soup has a grainy texture. Add a little cream to taste, salt and pepper and serve with snipped chives on top.
To go along with the soup, I made a mixture of cream cheese, fresh chives and smoked salmon in a bowl. Open a packet of cream cheese and let come to room temperature in a bowl. Snip in some fresh chives – about a dozen short stems. Open a pack of smoked salmon – a small one, bits, or on sale. And with a paring knife, cut the salmon and chives into the cream cheese until roughly combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
When ready for supper, toast two sesame bagels, cut in half. Finish the sweet pea soup and serve in some pretty bowls. Place the smoked salmon gamish on the table and rinse some fresh lettuce, tomatoes and fresh basil on a separate plate. Voila! . . . a delicious supper on a sweltering day!
For dessert, I sliced up two white peaches that have been sunning themselves on the kitchen counter. Squeezed a little fresh lemon juice and added a couple of spoonfuls of turbinado sugar. Covered with plastic wrap and chilled. When ready to serve, spoon out the macerated peaches and add some light cream. It will thicken due to the lemon juice. Yum!
Footnote: Reminded of this soup, I took out the cookbook and am re-inspired to cook bento box size servings for appetizing but small portions of food for the rest of the summer. I have two bento boxes that I bought at Takashimaya those 20 years ago which contain four different kinds of serving dishes. They are spectacular and I am so glad that I have them now. Along those lines, I also thought about apportioning our meals in separate portion serving trays and found these on Amazon. They’ll be perfect for everyday use – and be lots of fun besides. We’ll eat really well in small portions – and I look forward to this new adventure to cooking smaller portions while enjoying them more!