POTAGE SAINT-GERMAIN (about 8 cups, serving six)

For the croutons:

1-1/2 cups ½ inch cubes of French or Italian bread

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the soup:

the white part of 2 leeks, chopped and washed well

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups chicken broth

4 cups shelled fresh green peas or two 10 ounce packages frozen

4 cups chopped lettuce, rinsed and drained

½ cup fresh mint leaves

¼ cup chilled heavy cream if desired


1.   Make the croutons:  In a bowl drizzle the bread cubes with the butter, tossing them to coat them well, and in a shallow baking dish bake them in a preheated 350* oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the croutons are golden and crisp.  Season the croutons with salt.  The croutons may be made 1 day in advance and kept in an airtight container.

2.   Make the soup: In a large saucepan, cook the leeks in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, add the broth and 2 cups water and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the peas and the lettuce and simmer the mixture, covered partially, for 10 minutes, or until the peas are tender.  Stir in the mint and in a blender or food processor puree the soup in batches.  The soup may be made 1 day in advance and kept covered and chilled.  Return the soup to the pan, season it with salt and pepper, and reheat it over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is hot.

3.    In a small bowl beat the cream until it is thickened slightly but still pourable and season it with salt.  Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle drops of the cream on each serving, and draw skewer or knife through the drops, forming decorative patterns.  Serve the soup with the croutons.

from Bon Appetit Magazine, August, 2004

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