Split pea and ham soup might have sustained you through the winter, but when spring finally arrives, it's time for something a little lighter. This verdant vegetarian version of pea soup steals a few tricks from potato and leek soup, letting that classic combination thicken the soup without sacrificing fresh pea flavor.
Served in individual bread bowls, it's filling enough to be a meal but won't weigh you down after lunch. Cutting carbs? Ditch the bread and garnish with chopped nuts or ladle over quinoa for a protein boost.
Slice the leeks in half lengthwise, then rinse well and slice thinly into half-moons.
Heat the oil in a medium (4-quart) pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes until the leeks start to soften.
Cover and cook for 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are very soft.
Uncover and add the broth and diced potato. Increase the heat to medium and bring the broth to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft and almost falling apart.
Add the peas and cook just until they are thawed and warmed through.
Carefully transfer the soup to a blender and puree. Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to do this in two batches. Taste add add more salt as desired.
To serve, slice around the top edge of each bread boule to remove the "cap." Hollow out the bread into a bowl with your fingers or a small serrated knife.
Ladle the soup into the bread bowls and garnish with your choice of toppings: cracked black pepper, chives or dill, a drizzle of crème fraiche or plain Greek yogurt, and/or lemon zest.