Some of my most vivid childhood memories revolve around my amama Miren wearing an apron (she always wore an apron) while peeling something. My grandmother’s peeling skills are legendary in our family and always a benchmark to compare ourselves to. Every time we make tortilla de patatas in our family, we check the leftover potato peels and judge what my grandmother would have thought of that. Nothing was ever wasted.
I remember her in the pastry shop’s kitchen, sitting on a stool with a large bowl of peas on her lap, peeling away while she watched everyone around her. Food took time and nothing was ever rushed.
J. is beginning to be very inquisitive about everything and anything around him these days. “Tell me the story of how you got these peas”, he asked the other day after we came home from the farmers market. He was there and he saw it, but for some reason he likes reliving it through my words. His curiosity is endless.
But I also realized that is something I do to my own mom often. Everyday I ask her to tell me stories from our past. Stories that she’s told me a million times and that I know by heart. I ask her about all the details and subtleties like I want to recreate the story in a visual way in my own head. I tend to do that a lot.
“Tell me about amama Antolina’s garden in Lezama“, I asked her yesterday while we were peeling these English peas for lunch. Antolina was my great grandmother who raised six children as a widow during the times of the Spanish Civil War. They struggled, lost everything, but after years of hard work, they built an amazing home with the most beautiful garden. Baby heirloom potatoes, walnuts, apples, wild strawberries, leeks, honey bees, peas, cherry trees… My great uncle and aunt still live in that house and still maintain that garden.
We got these organic peas from our farmers market last Sunday. I told my mom, “I feel like patatas en salsa verde”. It is a soup we grew up eating, with english peas, potatoes, rice, lots of garlic and parsley and often times a raw egg yolk quickly whisked into the soup. I used to love the raw egg yolk in there and to this day is one of my favorite Spring time soups.
English Pea, Potato and Rice Soup (Patatas en Salsa Verde)
Makes enough for 4 people
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
7-8 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1 qt water (enough to cover and a bit more)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen english peas
2 Tbs arborio or bomba rice
1 tsp salt
4 eggs, soft boil (optional)
In a large pot, heat the olive oil with the garlic. Cook for about a minute on medium heat. We don’t want it to turn brown, just lightly cook. Add the sliced potatoes and cook them in the olive oil for about 2 minutes until you feel they are starting to stick to the pan. Add the chopped parsley and stir.
Add the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Cover with water, add the peas, rice and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender. taste and adjust salt.
Serve with eggs if desired, fresh parsley, cilantro flowers and toasted bread.