MINT & PEA SOUP
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.”