I would never claim to have invented chilled buttermilk pea soup, but I do take pride in improving on it. The first time I saw the recipe in the New York Times more than a decade ago, it consisted of just three ingredients — peas, buttermilk, salt — which of course more than qualified it for the Cup of Jo five-ingredient dinner series. But if we’re talking vegetable love stories, peas love mint, right? And what isn’t improved by leeks? And chilled shrimp in the summer — well, it’s such a treat. Plus: Peas are starchy and buttermilk is rich, so it’s actually filling, especially when served with a piece of crusty bread. Here’s the how-to…
Chilled Buttermilk-Pea Soup with Shrimp
You want the peas to be somewhat thawed, otherwise the consistency is more like a milkshake and less like a soup. Also, if you want to make homemade buttermilk, go for it, it will be amazing and still fall close to the five-ingredient minimum, since buttermilk is only milk and lemon juice.
1 pound shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 small leek, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil*, plus 1 tablespoon
2 cups thawed frozen peas
2 cups buttermilk
generous handful fresh mint leaves (about 15-20)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper*
Suggested add-ons: chili oil or chili crisp, chopped fresh tomatoes, handful of sweet summer corn, grilled halloumi, crusty bread with butter
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Meanwhile, sauté the leek in 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet placed over medium heat. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Place the leeks, peas, buttermilk, mint, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a blender and whirl until everything is processed and the color is a beautiful pastel mint. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add shrimp. Chill in the refrigerator (fine to do this right in the blender pitcher) for at least one hour — the colder the better. Optional: Serve topped with chili oil or any of the suggested add-ons.
* We aren’t counting olive oil, salt, or pepper in the ingredient total.
The shrimp-less version is also delicious for lunch.