Thursday, 19 July 2007

Pea and Mint Soup

Somewhat outrageously, this has been the second day in a row of bright, warm weather. I don't know what this British weather thinks it's playing at, but I'm re-assured to hear that tomorrow is a return to heavy rains, hail, and lower temperatures and that it will stay that way through the weekend. Phew - this can hardly be the most miserable summer ever if it didn't turn horrible again.

In the mean time, a summery version of the classic pea soup seemed the appropriate companion to what nature was offering up. It's not only a tasty, filling soup but it takes wonderfully little effort - perfect for summer evenings when you don't want to be standing in a hot kitchen for long. There are many similar versions of this soup out there, but I like to make mine with fresh mint for that lovely minty pea taste. I tried putting cucumber in this version, which neither added to nor detracted from the result and which I'll probably leave out in the future. The other thing to note is that I used soya milk in my recipe simply because I don't drink milk; most other recipes would call for cream which I'm sure would round out the natural sweetness of the peas and add a touch of richness as well.

Pea and Mint Soup
Serves 4 as a main course or 6-8 for a starter

  • 2 red onion or 6 shallots, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • 1 generous handful of mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 litre of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 lbs of peas (frozen is fine)
  • 1 C of cream/milk/soya milk
  • 6 pieces of bacon (optional garnish)
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Over a medium heat, melt the butter and sautee together the onions/shallots and spring onions, until softened.
  2. Add the lettuce and mint, cooking until each has wilted a bit.
  3. Pour in the stock, cooking until the stock just comes to a boil.
  4. When the stock is warm enough, add the peas and cook those for a few minutes.
  5. When the peas have just cooked through, turn off the heat and add the soup into a blender in batches. Blend until the soup is smooth.
  6. Transfer the blended soup back to the pot, and heat over a low heat. Add the cream/soya milk, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Also depending on whether you're using cream, milk, or soya milk, add more of any of the above or add more butter in order to thicken and enrich the soup to the level you like.
  7. Meanwhile, grill the bacon until very crispy. Once cooked, roughly chop the pieces.
  8. Serve the soup in bowls with a sprinkle of bacon to garnish. Another optional garnish is to top it off with some roughly chopped mint.

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