Recipe Test: Snap Pea Minestrone with Poached Eggs

(Image credit:  Thomas J. Story)

Poor Mike seems to have caught the crud, and so his appetite has been a little off.  It seemed like a perfect time to try out this new recipe I found in the March 2012 issue of Sunset magazine.  

Sugar snap peas are in season right now, although so far, my grocery store seems only to have them in the packages rather than in bulk.  As a grazer, I love opening a bag while I'm sewing and then snacking on them while I work.  They are nutritious, low in calories, fat free, and--bonus!-- non-greasy so they don't mess up my fingers for handling fabrics and thread.  

This was a simple and quick recipe, great for a week night meal.  It was especially nice adding the poached egg since that made it a one dish meal as well.  I added some bread on the side for dunking, but this would have made a satisfying meal all on its own.  

My notes about the recipe:  When I make poached eggs, I crack each egg into a custard cup and then submerge the cup into the water about half way, allowing the egg to float out into the poaching water on its own.  They spread out less that way and I can manage to keep all four eggs separated.  Also, I spray the pan first with no-stick spray as extra insurance.

The only other change I made was to use a teaspoon of dried tarragon rather than fresh.  It's too early for my culinary herb garden to be yielding many fresh herbs, especially tarragon, and it doesn't keep well in the refrigerator when I buy it in the store.  With the prices charged for fresh herbs, I'll stick with dried for now.  It tasted good and I did not add any extra seasoning beyond what the recipe suggests.

So here is the recipe by Kate Washington as it appeared in the magazine.  You could make this a vegetarian dish (assuming you are the egg-eating kind of vegetarian) by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth.  And if you don't eat eggs, by all means, leave it out.  The soup will be good without it, or I could imagine substituting diced tofu for the egg.

Snap Pea Minestrone with Poached Eggs
Recipe By:  Kate Washington for Sunset magazine
4 Servings

1/2 cup diced ham
1 carrot -- peeled and cut into small dice
1 leek -- white and light green parts only, thinly sliced into half-moons and rinsed well
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
4 large eggs
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup tiny pasta, such as farfalline or orzo (I used orzo)
2 1/2 cups diagonally sliced sugar snap peas (one 8 oz. package)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

Cook ham, carrot, leek, and green onions with butter in a large pot over medium heat until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, warm vinegar and 1 1/2 inch water over high heat until bubbles form on pan bottom, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Break eggs into water, keeping them slightly apart.  Cook until whites are firm but yolks are still soft, 3-4 minutes.  Transfer eggs with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Add broth and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to vegetables.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add pasta and boil gently, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until tender, 7-8 minutes.  Stir in sugar snap peas and return to a boil, then stir in 1/2 cup parmesan, 2 teaspoons tarragon, and more pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls and top each with a poached egg.  Serve with more cheese, tarragon, and pepper if you like.

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Today I'm hoping to finish up the free motion quilting on my swap quilt.  It is about 2/3 finished now.  I've done some experimentation with my stitch regulator to see if I can solve my problem with skipped stitches.  There is hope.  Later on today I'll tell you what I did.

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