the whole pea

I spent an hour or so shelling the peas we got from CSA this week and catching up on 24. I know. We’re really behind on TV.

It’s kind of relaxing, shelling peas. Not as hard as expected, either– the pods are a little stringy, and if you just snap the stem end (I had to cut mine) backwards and pull, the string runs down like a zipper for the pod.

After figuring out how many peas we actually had we decided to make
muttar paneer
, but with tofu instead of paneer. It came out well, but the kitchen still smells like ginger three days later.

But what to do with the pods? Is there anything you can do with pods other than compost them?


There are recipes for pea pod soup all over the internet, but we didn’t have any creme fraiche, carrots, potatoes, lemon zest, leeks, or any other fancy stuff. Mostly just a lot of pea pods. So I made it up. I heated up some olive oil, chopped up an onion and a few cloves of garlic and threw them in, then threw in the pods and stir-fried them until they were bright green and starting to show a few spots of carmelization. Then I threw in a glug of vermouth, about two pints of vegetable stock, and let them simmer for about half an hour.

I let mine cool down a little, then ladled them into the blender.

If you try this at home, just pulse your pods and break them up as much as you can. Don’t try to puree them. They won’t. Look:

That’s blenderized pea pods, sans much of their liquid.

Sugar and snow pea pods are edible, at least until they get too old. Shelling peas (aka English peas, or just peas) don’t really have edible pods.

Trust me on this. On Wednesday when I picked them up, I washed one and ate it, or at least tried to. It tasted good– not as sweet as a sugar pea, but still pea-flavored and a tiny bit grassy. But man, oh man, was it ever woody. You might be able to eat one if it was young, but once they’re large enough to be picked, the pods are very fibrous.

I chewed and chewed until all the flavor was gone, and then spit a wad of cud into the sink and washed it down the disposal. Perhaps with enough time I could have broken it down, but I’m not a cow and I can’t spend all day chewing on one pea pod.

Of course, if you don’t trust me, you can try it yourself. But I don’t suggest it.

But back to the soup: Set a mesh strainer or food mill over a bowl and plop spoonfuls of pod mush into it. Use the mill’s scraper or a spoon to press the liquids out of the mush, until you eventually get a little pile of ick. Don’t throw the ick away yet- just remove it to another bowl or plate, add more mush, and repeat the pressing-and-de-icking until you’re out of mush. Then do it again with the ick you scraped out– sometimes if you let the ick rest a bit, you can get more liquid out on a second pass.

Chill in fridge. I put some dill and parsley stems in mine while it was chilling, because I forgot I had them while it was simmering.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and eat cold. I made some bacon and crumbled it into ours; you could also add a dash of hot sauce, or a swirl of cream or sour cream. It’s pretty silky without the cream, though.


  1. Melissa

    I have never seen pea soup made without it being used to use up the tail end of leftover ham.

    Is sounds like you enjoyed your pea podding experience.


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