Chilled pea soup for a taste of summerTuesday, 24 July 2012
The maddest thing happened in Leitrim last week. The sun came out! The skies were blue! I took my coat off and everything.
I got terribly overexcited, planning trips to the beach, summer drinks and BBQs. I even thought about shaving my legs.
Well, thank God I didn't. Because as soon as 'summer' arrived, it left. The rain came back, and stuck around for three days, giving me a cracking humidity headache.
In the middle of this half hour of sunshine, I was strolling around and rediscovered my patch of peas. Aha! I thought. Pea soup! The perfect summer dish. The memory of the beautiful chilled pea soup I had in Girona has stuck with me ever since I dined at Cal Ros.
I didn't have enough peas on the plants to make it (because seriously, you never have enough. You can grow two million pea plants and by the time they're shelled, you're left with a pathetic bowl full.) But I did have some frozen peas in the freezer.
When the rain started, my enthusiasm went, and I couldn't be bothered with it. It was roast chicken or nothing.
I made it the next day, partly in the hope that it would bring the sun back. Or at least give me a taste of summer.
Beautiful Hugh had a recipe for a pea and parsley soup in his Veg book, which I based mine on. It's easy as anything to make.
Chilled Pea Soup
Gently saute a small onion and thyme leaves. I say gently... Hugh said to simmer softly for ten minutes, but I can never be arsed with that. I just cooked it on a medium heat in butter until soft.
Throw in peas and vegetable stock. I had about 125g of peas, which was perfect for one person. I used about 200ml of stock. This is supposed to simmer for about 5 minutes, but I left the room and when I came back, most of the stock had reduced, so I added a bit more.
Blitz in a food processor with fresh mint. I used quite a lot, but it wasn't overpowering. I was expecting it to be a little too much, but honestly you can go a bit mad with it. I used about 10 leaves.
Leave to cool before putting it in the fridge to chill.
I served mine with a little poached egg, to try to recreate the Cal Ros dish. This bulks it up into more of a meal, but you could easily leave it out. When you're ready to serve, put the soup in a bowl (obviously) and decorate with a few little pea shoots, fresh peas and the poached egg.
I wasn't sure if I had pea shoots or not, so I just threw in some little leaves which tasted great. You could also add edible flowers, but I wouldn't put anything too strong and peppery in there, like nasturtiums. Lovage work well.
This soup tastes great eaten outside in the sunshine, with a cold beer and good looking friends.
But that's not going to happen. So eat it inside, while watching Wet Hot American Summer, and thinking seriously about your life choices.