I think peas are very underrated vegetables. For some reason, everyone seems to shy away from them, and they're often thought to be mushy and overcooked. I've always thought peas had a geat, if subtle, flavour; and buttered peas make a delicious accompaniment to any roast.
This time though, it was not buttered peas that I was after, but a new soup. I was getting bored with the usual pumpkin and mushroom and potato soups, so I thought I'd try something new and visually exciting; and nothing could be more visually interesting than green pea soup.
But that seemed a little ordinary, till I came upon a recipe in The Cook's Companion, edited by Lorraine Turner, for minted pea soup, which seemed to add just the pique I was looking for.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1 Tbsp butter
3 shallots, chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and finely chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
450g frozen peas
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
3½ cups vegetable stock
Fresh mint sprigs, to garnish
2 Tbsp cream or creme fraiche, to garnish
Notes on ingredients: If you can't find shallots (and you usually can't in Singapore, you could probably just use one onion). I used one handful of mint and didn't bother to chop it, and I used chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.
Melt the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the leeks and cook, stirring for an additional 2 minutes. It doesn't really matter if your leeks get slightly browned, as you're not making a vichyssoise.
Add the potatoes and cook for, you guessed it, another two minutes.
Add the peas to the pot.
And the mint; chopped, if you prefer.
And finally add the chicken or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and let everything simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
After you're done simmering, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down. Don't worry if the peas and mint look rather discoloured; that's meant to happen.
Transfer the ingredients to a blender and blend till smooth. You should get a thick, viridian paste. Return this to the pot and dilute with water or stock until you've reached the desired consistency. Heat it up and keep hot till you're ready to serve.
Scoop the soup into bowls, dollop a teaspoon of cream or creme fraiche into the centre of the soup, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.