We just celebrated the Summer Solstice and suitably sugar peas are ready! When I can make pea soup, I know summer is here. So why is pea soup so special? We can buy frozen peas all year long. Yes, it is true but we cannot make Hungarian pea soup with frozen peas alone, we need the fresh shells as well. This nourishing soup is mildly sweet and refreshing.
The summer season is the time when fruits and vegetables are available again, and it is hot outside. Eat all the seasonal summer fruits and vegetables. Try to eat as much of these colorful plants as possible as we know summer won’t last forever. Bring in those flowers too and lavishly decorate the summer table for meals!
To attune with the summer, one needs to pay attention to eating habits. One important consideration is to quickly sauté foods at a high temperature. There is no need to cook for hours, our body just wants something that is light and easy to digest. Yes the heat takes a toll on our digestion so the easier, lighter meals would be preferred. Also, adding hot pepper is a great way to deal with the summer heat. It does increase the heat first but then it quickly starts increasing circulation causing sweating and eventually the heat leaves the inside of our body. You can use as much as you like, summer is a great time. It is not an accident why countries in warm climate use so much hot peppers. So I think this dish would be a great fit for the summer.
This soup brings back some very nice memories. My mother and my paternal grandmother also made it. We had it regularly in the summer. Unfortunately, these vegetables are becoming harder and harder to find. You will not be able to find them at supermarkets easily. However, they should be readily available at farmers’ markets and health food stores. Or just simply grow them in your garden. Again, the tastier your vegis, the better your soup will be!
Ingredients for the soup
- 2 lbs of sugar snap peas with the shells
- about 3 Tbsp of oil (I like sunflower)
- 1 tsp of sweet Hungarian paprika
- 6 stalks of fresh carrots
- 1-2 kohlrabies
- 1 tsp of salt or to taste
- red hot pepper to taste (optional)
Ingredients for the dumplings (csipetke)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/2 cup of flour, possibly more
- 1 tsp of oil
- Start shelling the peas. Put the shells and the peas in separate bowls.
- Wash the shells and put them into a larger pot. Add 3 stalks of carrots and 1 kohlrabi and enough water to cover all vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook on medium high heat for about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dumplings (csipetke). This can be a little tricky. Lightly whisk the egg, add the salt and the oil. Start slowly adding the flour, enough so it forms a ball. You don’t want it to fall apart in the soup but you also don’t want it to be hard as rock. Try to find something in-between. The amount of flour really depends on how much the egg takes up. Once you found the right consistency, keep kneading it for about 5 minutes. Let the dough rise for at least 15 minutes.
- Have 1/2 cup of cold water ready for the soup.
- You can start the soup by now. Heat up the oil in a medium sized pot with a heavier bottom. When ready, put in the peas and stir. You sauté the peas for 5-10 minutes in the oil (the younger ones for less, the older ones longer). Make sure there is enough oil for the flour. Add the flour and stir. This thickens the soup. Then in 1 minute you can add the paprika and stir. This activates the paprika. In 20-30seconds add the cold water and stir making sure there are no lumps in the soup.
- Add the pea shell stock. Make sure the solids are strained from the liquid.
- Clean and scrape the outside of the carrots. Cut them up into bite sizes.
- Peel the kohlrabi and cut it into small, bite sizes.
- Put the carrots and the kohlrabi in the soup.
- Bring to a boil and cook on medium low heat for about 20-30 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, we will make the dumplings.
- Bring 1 quart of water to a boil for the dumplings.
- Meanwhile, cut the dough into 6 long pieces and roll each to finger thickness. Each will make about a 6 inch long dough. With your thumb and index finger you can pinch a little piece off the dough or you can use a knife for this too. ‘Csipet’ means ‘pinch of’ in Hungarian hence where the name csipetke for this dumpling came from. When the water starts boiling, you can start putting these small pieces of dumpling in the boiling water. They should be ready in a few minutes when they come up to the surface of the water. Sample one to make sure they are ready. Strain off water and serve in the soup. If the dumplings are too hard, no worries! You can put them in the soup for a short time and they will get softer as they soak up a little liquid.
- When soup is ready, add the salt, and hot pepper.
- Serve hot with parsley.
George Lang: George Lang’s Cuisine of Hungary
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