This verdant soup has nuance: Celery, leeks and vermouth provide grassy notes, just subtle enough so as not to obscure the delicate flavor of the peas. Bright and sunny — and hearty and comforting with the optional addition of pasta — it tastes like spring, but can be prepared perennially. Unlike many one-note blended pea soups, this one celebrates textures and flavors: Divide your soup across several bowls, then add a spoonful of pasta and a dollop of crème fraîche for bright tanginess. Because this light soup is vegetable-based, drizzle it with plenty of olive oil, for richness, and pile on as many fresh herbs as you can. Lemon zest is a garnish, but nonnegotiable for this dish to sparkle.
Preparation of Verdant Soup and Lemony Pea:
Step 1. In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium. Add the leeks and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.
Step 2. Stir in the vermouth and garlic, and cook until the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high.
Step 3. Once it comes to a boil, add the frozen peas and cook, stirring occasionally, just until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in the spinach until wilted. Stir in the parsley.
Step 4. Working in batches, transfer to a high-power blender and purée until creamy. (A food processor or immersion blender would work as well, though may take a little longer.) Return to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Makes about 12 cups.)
Step 5. Divide among bowls. Add pasta, if using, then top with a dollop of crème fraiche. Drizzle generously — nay, recklessly! — with olive oil. Sprinkle with a pile of herbs; grate fresh lemon zest on top; and serve immediately.
Step 6. Enjoy!