I was mulling over this post on the bus this morning, trapped on the aisle seat next to someone who didn’t feel inclined to give the window a quick sleeve-wipe and so I gazed around at the other passengers and indulged in some people-watching and let my mind wander. Anyway, I’m deviating from the point here which is that I decided there and then, on my steamed-up bus journey that not only was I not going to mention the rainy weather, I was going to avoid equating my choice of cooking to the damp outdoors, and I especially wasn’t going to say that its a jolly, green cheery looking soup thats all very spring like and will fill your life with verdant joy on a grey April day because it struck me that A) I made and photographed this soup on a sunny day and have only just got round to posting it, so I’d be living a lie and B) I actually love rain. It smells nice, its refreshing, if you’re outside doing some running or cycling or walking its invigorating and it’s just all round exhilarating. What could be nicer than getting truly soaked, and then coming inside cheeks glowing and hair all damp?Anyway, that’s the rather extensive and perambulative thought process that I went through to come to the conclusion that today’s recipe is simply “Minty Pea Soup”, which, rather than cheer you up in rainy weather simply adds another dimension of joy to the fun you’ve already been having splashing in puddles.
But before I get carried away, let’s look at the soup -
Feel inspired? Excellent. I’m not a user of frozen foods, I have a freezer full of food but it’s all things that I have cooked and then frozen portions of, or gluts of things like plums that have been stewed down and frozen. However when I was a student and had what one might term a “cash flow crisis” I only had £2 to last me a week and a big bag of frozen peas seemed like a good investment as I had no food in the house and I invisaged them going with a multitude of different things that I hoped I might be able to beg, borrow or bin-raid in the following days. They were just wonderful and I must admit to being a convert, to the extent that I started to go a little pea-crazy and began throwing them indiscriminately into my cooking. However in amongst all the mad concoctions that I gleefully threw together this soup was a minty-fresh delight.
Sooo… Inspired by my minimal ingredients, gather together -
a bag of frozen peas
An onion (or half an onion)
A handful of fresh mint
Natural Yoghurt if you have some (to serve)
Vegetable stock, or just plain water.
Take your onion and cut it up quite small, don’t be too obsessive about it, but we don’t want chunky onion rings. Chuck them into a saucepan with a little olive oil and put them on a low heat. Give them a little stir with a wooden spoon to get them all oily and then let them just soften and start to smell a little oniony – we don’t want them to be browned. Once they’ve gone nice and soft, and a little transluscent chuck in a few cloves of garlic. Cut off the top and bottom and then placing the flat of your knife on it, bash the clove with the heel of your hand. This crushes the garlic to intensify the flavour and also loosens the papery skin so that it shoul djust slip right off. Chuck the bashed and skinned garlic in with your onion and allow it to soften too, then throw in your frozen peas. The amount you use really does depend upon how hungry you are but to serve two, I’d use 250g. Now pour in either stock or boiling water. You want enough to just more that cover the peas. You can always add more, but it’s quite hard to remove it!
You will also want a handful of fresh mint. Using a pair of scissors cut half your mint into your soup, and then with a stick blender or liquidiser zzschooosh up the soup, and bring to a gentle simmer. Often I’m so hungry that I eat the soup almost immediately as the fresh flavour of the mint peas and garlic works well without having a long simmer, but if you’d like the onion and stock flavours to really ripen a little then you’re welcome to simmer it a little. Towards the end of cooking, chop in the remainder of the mint and add a spirnkle of salt and black pepper. Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some crusty bread, or if you’re poverty stricken have an extra large bowlful without all the extras – either way its still fresh and delicious!
Over the next few days, look out for an update on how to repot your mint and other garden-y things from the resident Organic Master Gardener. Mint is starting to pop up again in the garden and it may need a helping hand…!