The Lorenzburgians love a little bit of luxury in the middle of their busy everyday lives!
The national dish is a tasty, warming and luxurious soup – perfect for an elegant winter luncheon or as a starter for a formal dinner. The dish borrows its name from the legendary French courtisan Ninon de l’Enclos whom is reported to have loved this charming little soup. Anyone who has ever tasted Créme Ninon may very well imagine that this green pea soup, which is served with lightly whipped cream and champagne, has just the right amount of finesse to satisfy the exacting tastebuds of the french aristocracy in the late 1600’s.
The pea is a symbol of Lorenzburg and it is also part of the national coat-of-arms. The pea is the true protagonist in the fairytale of ‘the Princess and the Pea’ and it serves to remind us that even small things have great potential to cause positive change. The base of ‘Creme Ninon’ is pureed green peas and as far as change goes: once you have tasted this little gem, your tastebuds will never be completely satisfied with anything less sophisticated!
Now to the recipe:
- 3 medium sized yellow onions
- 1 – 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 bulb of fennel if you like
- a generous amount of olive oil 1.5 tablespoon of salted butter
- 750 grams frozen green peas (good quality, as they are greener)
- 4-5 laurel leaf
- 1 liter of vegetable (or chicken) stock
- 2 deciliters of dry white wine
- 3 deciliters of heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons of lemon zest
- white pepper to taste
For the serving/dressing:
- lightly whipped cream
- (vegetarian) caviar
- freshly chopped dill and chives
- Finely shaved truffle or some truffle oil (if you like)
- Pour 3 deciliters of cream into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat somewhat and reduce the cream until about half remains. This step is important, as reducing the cream gives it a subtle caramel-like taste. Stir it so that it doesn’t burn!
- Cut garlic, onions and, if you like, the fennel bulb in pieces, (not too small as they will be blended later) and stir fry in olive oil and butter. You will want the vegetables to catch a little bit of color as the sugars in the onions caramelize. Add the laurel leaves and allow them cook with the onions. If there is a risk of sticking in the pan you may add a little bit of water.
- Add the peas and vegetable stock to the onions and let everything simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Take off the heat and take out the laurel leaves. Use a blender to mix the soup thoroughly. Go for a little longer than you usually would. Once you are satisfied that the soup is really smooth with no visible large particles, pour the mix into a fine sieve that you’ve placed over a large saucepan. Stir the pea mix in the sieve in order to separate the sauce from the remaining pieces of shell. You want to create a really creamy and light puree. Try to get as much of the sauce out of the mix by stirring and pushing the contents against the sieve.
- Add the reduced cream and white wine and let simmer for maybe 5 minutes before adding the lemon zest. Allow to simmer a bit more and add a little white pepper and salt to taste. It’s perfectly fine to cheat by adding a drop of food coloring if the soup isn’t green enough!
For the serving:
Pour the soup in elegant bowls and top with some whipped cream, caviar and chopped dill and chives. Add a little truffle oil if you have any. Pour a little bit of champagne on top just before serving!
Enjoy with a good rustic bread and plenty of dry white wine (or champagne). Dine to French Baroque music to add some flair and to impress your guests: