When summer finally takes off in the UK the ground suddenly bursts with a glut of vibrant fruits and vegetables. From the myriads of ruby berries hanging delicately from their sturdy canes, to courgettes and cucumbers, fiery peppers, sweetcorn, runner beans, french beans, broad beans, beetroot, salad leaves etc etc. At this time of year you really can eat the rainbow!
The humble pea is a staple vegetable in England, you can bet your bottom dollar that almost every household has a bag of frozen peas in their freezer, all ages love these sprite green morsels. Probably because of their unique sweetness which is most concentrated the peas are popped straight from their pods because, the sugars haven’t had a chance to turn to starch when eaten straight from the pods. Peas are another vegetable that comes into season during British summer.
I love this recipe because it shows that root to shoot eating is possible and always delicious as the star of this soup is empty pea pods. After you’ve enjoyed the pearl like centres within don’t just throw away the shells, they pack just as much flavour as the peas themselves. Fresh pods are great raw in salads for added crunch however, I wouldn’t recommend steaming or boiling them like mangetout as they become quite stringy which makes them awkward to eat and ruins the enjoyment of gobbling them up. This soup does therefore require you to sieve the soup once blitzed to get rid of those pesky, reedy membranes. It’s a slightly time consuming but simple step that is well worth it as the finished soup is the semblance of summer.
There’s few ingredients in this soup, because the star of the show is the pea pod. The other elements in the recipe are simply there to enhance the shells’ flavour not overwhelm the dish but, if you like your soup extra spicy, minty or garlicky (my dad’s personal preference) then by all means add more of these constituents. If you don’t have fresh mint to hand fresh basil, tarragon or oregano (use half as much fresh oregano to mint) also work really well. If you don’t have fresh herbs you can also use dried, you will probably need only a teaspoon or so if using dried herbs. And of course if you don’t have pea pods you can make this with peas themselves, fresh or frozen!
This dish is not only the epitome of fresh, summer flavour but also loving food and hating waste!
(This recipe makes just over 1 litre of soup, will serve 4 easily)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- x2 onions, chopped
- x3 garlic cloves (2 if large), finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
- tbsp freshly chopped mint
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 550g shelled pea pods (or the equivalent of frozen or fresh peas)
1. Heat the oil in a large pan, when hot turn the heat to low and add the onions. Stir the onions so they get coated in the oil and then place a lid on the pan and leave the onions to sweat until translucent and slightly golden, it should take about 10 minutes. Stir through the garlic, chilli and mint, put the lid on and leave to sweat for a further 5 minutes. Then add the peas, return the lid and leave for another 5 minutes. Pour over the stock and leave to simmer away for 20 minutes.
2. Drain the liquid into a large bowl and place the vegetables into a food processor or blender, add a couple of ladles of the liquid and then blitz the mixture until smooth. Place a sieve over the large bowl containing the remaining liquid and pour the pureed pea mix into the sieve. Using the back of a spoon push as much of the pulp through the sieve until you are just left with the stringy skins and membranes of the pods. Stir the pulp and liquid in the bowl to amalgamate and then reheat in the pan before serving or leave to cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
TIP: Sometimes I add a dribble of oat cream for an extra smooth and creamy texture, when serving I like to sprinkle over some nutritional yeast for a cheesy twist.