Chilled Pea-Wasabi Soup with Lemon Cashew Cream and Pickled Red Onions

A refreshing bowl of chilled pea soup – rich in vitamins A and K – is a great way to usher in and celebrate the warmer months. Divide it among shooters to serve as an hors d’oeuvre.

(Yield: About 4 cups)

For the soup:

2 cups shucked, fresh green peas (about 1 ½ pounds)
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch scallions, green and white portions, cut into 1” pieces
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons wasabi powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
2-3 cups vegetable stock

For cashew cream:

1 cup cashews, soaked
1 teaspoon lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¾ – 1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt

For black sesame seed garnish:

¼ cup black sesame seeds
¼ teaspoon salt

For pickled red onions:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion (6 ounces), thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar

To make soup:

Bring 8 cups water to boil and prepare an ice bath. Add 1 teaspoon sea salt to boiling water. Blanch peas until tender, 2-3 minutes. Transfer peas to ice bath. Drain peas and set aside.

In 1-gallon pot, heat olive oil over medium flame. Add scallions, garlic, wasabi powder and salt. As soon as garlic sizzles, remove pan from heat. Set pan aside and allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.

Transfer scallion-garlic mixture to a high-speed blender. Add peas, salt and 2 cups vegetable stock. If soup is too thick, add remaining vegetable stock until desired consistency is reached. Taste and season with salt, if needed.

Refrigerate soup until ready to serve.

To make cashew cream:

In a high-speed blender, puree cashews, lemon zest, lemon juice and water until smooth. Set aside.

To make black sesame seed garnish:

In an 8-inch sauté pan, toast sesame seeds with salt over medium flame until they are fragrant and begin popping. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

To make pickled red onion:

Using the same sauté pan, heat oil over low flame. Add red onion and salt. Sauté until onions are softened, 5-10 minutes. Add brown rice vinegar to pan and sauté for another minute.

Serve soup garnished with cream, sesame seeds and red onions.