Monday, 23 April 2012

Give Peas a Chance!

I arranged this blog to be posted whilst I am otherwise engaged in the gruelling process of sailing an old wooden boat in hefty seas (forecast) with strong wind on the nose as we head West towards the Gibralta straights on our way to the UK. Whoopee!  I do hope that my sea legs are not failing me in the galley as I attempt to cook for ten hungry (or not) crew. And before you turn green at the thought, here is the besest, tastiest, easiest, cheapest and most wonderful recipe for soup that should make you smile, with a little poem to serve it with. Calorie free (the poem that is).

This poem must be read out loud with a frightfully-frightfully British accent to your kids or your partner, or whom ever is around you to enjoy it, right before you dive into a bowl of pea and mint soup. Serve this wonderfully green pea soup with some warm soda bread straight out of the oven and some feta cheese marinated in chilli and lemon zest and rejoice that spring is here and that means it’s almost summer...

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are."
Pussy said to the Owl "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?"
Said the Piggy, "I will"
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Edward Lear 1812-1888

For Pea and mint soup you will need;
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp of fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 cloves of garlic
500 ml/1 pint of chicken or vegetable stock
500g, ½ bag frozen or fresh garden peas
200ml crème fraiche
1 lemon, zest and juice
Mince and slices of quince (but only if you have a runcible spoon)

  • Sauté the onion in a little butter and olive oil in a good sized saucepan.  Sauté gently until they are starting to lightly colour.

  • Add the fennel seeds to the pan. Turn the heat up then add the frozen peas with the garlic. Stir well as it all starts to have a good sizzle.

  • Now pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. As soon as it comes to the boil, turn the heat down so the soup simmers gently for ten minutes.

  • Turn the heat off then add the mint the lemon juice and a few tablespoons of the crème fraiche. Use a hand blender to puree the soup till it’s nice and smooth and the most vivid and pleasing green.

  • Mix in the rest of the crème fraiche and add the lemon zest to garnish. 

The mint goes in at the end to maintain its fresh flavour and colour. This is one of my most favourite soups of all time and is full of the flavours of a sunny garden on a weekend. Lush. And what a vibrant pea-green it is – the soup, not our boat, or us for that matter.  Although Mariquita is hopefully as you read this, dancing in the light of the moon, the moon. Dancing by the light of the moon.

Thanks for reading,