Fresh soup and a quick sandwich create a simple weeknight dinner for spring. Here, garden-fresh peas are pureed into a smooth soup and accompanied by a grilled ham and cheese sandwich for a family-friendly meal.
Spring Pea Soup with Grilled Ham and Cheese
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb. fresh or frozen peas, blanched
2 cups vegetable stock
20 large fresh mint leaves, plus slivered mint for garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 slices country-style bread, each 1/2 inch thick
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
8 oz. thinly sliced Black Forest ham
5 oz. grated Gruyère cheese
Crème fraîche for serving
In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer the shallot mixture to a Vitamix blender and add the peas, stock and mint leaves. Slowly bring the Vitamix up to full speed and blend until the soup is hot, about 6 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, preheat an electric panini press on the “panini” setting according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place the bread on a work surface and brush with the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Turn 4 of the slices over and spread each with 1/2 Tbs. mustard. Top with the ham and cheese, dividing evenly. Cover with the remaining bread slices, oiled side up.
Place 2 of the sandwiches on the preheated panini press, close the lid, and cook until the bread is crisp and the cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Transfer the sandwiches to a cutting board and cut in half. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.
Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with crème fraîche and slivered mint. Serve the sandwiches alongside. Serves 4.