The taste of fresh pea shoots is one of my childhood memories so when they were part of last week’s selection @Fresh Harvest I just couldn’t resist. Pea shoots are the young tender leaves, soft stems and curly tendrils of pea plants. They are widely used in Asian cuisines but beautifully  enhance the pea flavor in this delicious spring chowder. Pea shoots are a good source of beta carotine, vitamin C, folate and fiber  and are, best of all, low in calories. Just make sure to stir them through right before serving the chowder so that they still have a crunch to them.

Spring chowder with sautéed shrimp and pea shoots (serves 4)

2 tbsp butter

1 fennel bulb, cored and chopped

2 leeks, halved lengthwise and sliced

2 tbsp whole wheat flour

3 cups (750ml) milk

1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock

2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice

sea salt and cracked black pepper

nutmeg, freshly grated

1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 cup (125g) frozen peas

large handful of fresh pea shoots, torn

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the flour. Add the milk, vegetable stock and potatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 12 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, sauté the shrimp in a non-stick pan until opaque and cooked to your liking. Set aside and keep warm.

Partially puree the soup with an immersion blender and season to taste with lemon juice, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the peas and allow to warm through. Stir through the pea shoots and serve the chowder topped with the shrimp.