Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ode to A Frozen Pea.

Frozen peas are the reliable friends of the vegetable world. Often overlooked, simply boiled or microwaved as a quick accompaniment when all the other veg has wilted or gone. When you are reaching that point towards the end of the week when you really ought to have been food shopping already, frozen peas will come to your rescue to brighten up pasta, noodles or rice and any remnants of the week's ingredients that you can find in the fridge. They are so versatile: in winter they're a last minute pop of colour to a dark meaty stew; in spring they add a perfect sweetness to a minestrone with asparagus; in summer they make a lovely off the cuff salad tossed in lemon juice and olive oil, with a sprinkling of crumbly salty cheese; in Autumn they make this great last minute soup.

Soup is definitely what is needed. The 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' is undoubtedly upon us. The clouds hang heavy on the hills and the rain has poured and poured. The skies are grey and foreboding and the forecast does not show any signs of imminent improvement. This pea soup has the perfect rainy day combination. Sweet pea, mint and zingy feta help to lift the spirits, hinting at warmer sunnier times, whilst the comfortingly thick and warming texture soothes away the stresses of the day and the beating of the rain. So, I dedicate this most perfect of autumnal soups to the humble frozen pea.

Pea Soup with Feta & Croutons.

makes 4 steaming mugfuls

500g frozen peas
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 rashers of thinly sliced streaky bacon, cut into strips.
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock 
A sprig of mint
Feta cheese
Stale sour dough bread
Olive oil
Sea salt & pepper

Put a saucepan on medium heat and add a glug of olive oil. Put in the bacon and brown a little. Next, add the onion and cook until softened and starting to go translucent, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic and soften for a minute or two.

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Once simmering, add half of the peas and simmer for 10 minutes. Put in the remaining peas and allow the soup to come back to the boil. 

Meanwhile, add a glug of olive oil to a frying pan. Add cubes of stale bread to the pan and fry until crispy and golden. Season the croutons with sea salt and pepper. 

Add 3 or 4 large mint leaves. Blend the soup.

Once smooth, check the seasoning and add sea salt and pepper as required. Ladle into mugs or bowls and enjoy with a sprinkling of feta, croutons and a few torn mint leaves.

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