Summer Pea Soup

Deanna won the grand prize in the Food For Thought Festival in Madison, WI, with this. It's delicious! ... Story about your recipe: A friend and I do weekly meal swaps with each other, and we’re constantly challenging each other to do new things with seasonal ingredients. One Saturday, not too long ago, we biked up to the farmer’s market together, and decided that we’d each buy the same ingredients and go home and prepare something from them. We bought shelled peas, basil, and Capri Farms goat’s milk feta. Here’s what I whipped together. It’s a very simple soup, best served lukewarm. It tastes like summer in a bowl. ... Note: Deanna says not to use frozen peas. A good substitution is fresh edamame.

Ingredients (listed in order they will be used):
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. (about 3 cups) fresh, shelled green peas. (fresh picked from your garden is best – but I buy them from the farmer’s market.)
2 1/4 cups water or chicken broth (broth provides richer flavor – but beware of salt. Use low-sodium or homemade.)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil (fresh picked from your garden is best—but I buy it at the farmer’s market.)
3-5 Tbs. cream. (look for a Wisconsin brand, or buy from your local dairy.) (if you’re looking to cut calories, you may sub half and half.)
Goat’s milk feta cheese (for garnish) (I like Capri Farms French or Greek style.)

In a 2-quart sauce pan, lightly sauté the garlic in the olive oil. Add the water, and bring to a boil. Add the peas. Boil covered, until peas are tender. This will vary depending on the freshness of your peas. Check them often and as soon as they’re tender, remove them from the heat. Very fresh peas will need only a few minutes.

Pour peas and water in a blender. Puree on high until very smooth. (You may need to add some extra water at this stage if your peas were not fresh.) Force mixture through a fine sieve. Add chopped basil and half and half (if desired).

Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with crumbled feta.