MINT & PEA SOUP

NZ Gardener - - VEGE GARDEN -

For me, soup is not just a win­ter dish – I love to eat it all year round, and I par­tic­u­larly en­joy cold soup dur­ing the sum­mer, even when the weather is less than sum­mery. Mint gives this soup a won­der­fully fresh taste, and it makes a per­fect lunch with some bread and cheese on the side. Perry, the es­tate man­ager at Great Dix­ter, once ac­cused me of be­ing lazy for adding whole peas, pods and all, to the pot, but I feel they give the soup more body and in­ten­sify the flavour. For the best re­sult, re­mem­ber to chill the soup thor­oughly. If I am mak­ing it for a crowd, I will put a large bowl of it in a sink­ful of iced wa­ter. Note this soup does not freeze well.

In­gre­di­ents • 50g but­ter • 1 onion, chopped • 1 litre veg­etable or chicken stock • 550g shelled fresh peas (or thawed frozen peas) • 300g un­pod­ded peas • hand­ful each flat-leaf pars­ley and mint leaves • 5 ta­ble­spoons crème fraîche or sour cream • 2 ta­ble­spoons dou­ble cream • salt and pep­per • hand­ful mixed fresh herbs, chopped

Melt the but­ter in a large, heavy pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 5 min­utes, stir­ring, un­til it has soft­ened. Pour in half the stock and bring to a boil.

Add the peas, shelled and un­pod­ded, re­duce the heat and sim­mer gen­tly un­til ten­der (no more than 3 min­utes for fresh peas, and about 2 min­utes for frozen). Re­move from the heat, add the pars­ley, mint and re­main­ing stock. Trans­fer the mix­ture to a blender and purée the soup un­til as smooth as pos­si­ble (if you like a very smooth soup, you might also want to strain it through a fine-mesh sieve). Sea­son with salt and pep­per and let cool, then re­frig­er­ate un­til re­ally cold.

When you are ready to serve, mix the crème fraîche and dou­ble cream to­gether. Serve the chilled soup topped with a spoon­ful of the cream mix and sprin­kled with chopped mixed herbs.

Aaron is in New Zealand this month and will host one event at High­wic House, Auck­land, on Sunday Sept 24. 2-4pm. En­try $10. Signed books avail­able.

“I am a gar­dener who cooks rather than a chef, so my cook­ing style is very sim­ple.”

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