Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by the book coauthored by the two, Almost Meatless, due out in spring 2009.
As a freelance writer working from home, I make lunch for one--myself--often. Well-organized freezer and pantry staples make cooking for one easy and economical. For example, I keep homemade chicken stock in the freezer in one cup containers, and I freeze leftover white wine in ice cube trays so I always have these ingredients handy. I keep frozen peas, good quality ham steak, and a sliced baguette in my basement freezer for fast single-serving meals. Since these small quantities defrost in less time than it takes to chop an onion, this soup comes together in about 25 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup frozen peas (divided)
- 2 tablespoons white wine (about 1 wine ice cube)
- 1 cup homemade chicken stock
- 1 ounce ham steak, cubed (reserve the remaining ham steak as a filling for omelets or salad)
- 1 tablespoon mint, chopped (optional)
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- 2 thin baguette slices, toasted
In a small heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and a heavy pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add 1 cup of the peas, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup. Stir to coat the peas with the butter. Add the wine, and continue cooking until almost completely evaporated, about a minute. Add the chicken stock, increase heat to medium-high, and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes.
Transfer soup to a blender and process until smooth. Return to the pot over medium heat and add the ham and the remaining 1/2 cup fresh peas. Cook until the whole peas and ham are warmed through, about three minutes. Thin with a little water, if desired. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in mint. Pour soup into a serving bowl, sprinkle with Parmesan, and serve with toast.