Another visit from the sister and her handsomely mustachioed Frenchman ‘friend’ and another opportunity to push out the culinary boat and prove there are a few people left in this country who still know how to use a knife and fork and don’t think dinner should be deep-fried and served in a bucket.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 – 25 minutes
Skill level: straightforward if a little faffy for a soup
Serves: 4 as a starter
- 1 large shallot – finely dices
- 1 large cucumber
- fresh podded garden peas – 220g (keep the pods)
- 1 large round lettuce
- butter – 25g
- 2 garlic clove – crushed and chopped
- nutmeg – ¼ tsp or a good grating
- vegetable stock – 400ml
- lemon juice – squeeze
- a handful of cooked prawns
- créme fraîche – 4tbsp
- salt & pepper
Pod the peas.
Next put the pea pods into a saucepan along with the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes until the pods are tender.
Remove from the heat and when cool enough to handle, pour into a liquidiser.
Liquidise thoroughly and then pass through a sieve into a bowl. Use the back of a ladle to force as much of the liquid out of the pulp. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan and add the chopped shallot and garlic. Cook for about 8 minutes or until translucent but not coloured.
Peel the cucumber, cut in half lengthways and scoop out (and discard) the seeds. Roughly chop and add to the pan along with the nutmeg and some generous seasoning.
Cook over a medium heat for a further 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent.
Add the peas and the sieved pea pod/stock mixture, cover and simmer gently for 7 or so minutes until the peas are tender. Take care not to overcook.
Remove from the heat and when cool enough to handle, pour into a liquidiser and blitz thoroughly until smooth.
Leave in the liquidiser to cool.
Meanwhile separate the lettuce leaves from the stalk, keeping the stalk as this will add to the flavour (just trim off any brown).
Rinse the leaves and stalk thoroughly in a sieve, drain and roughly chop.
When the soup is cool, add the lettuce and stalk and liquidise until smooth – you’ll probably have to do this in stages as the lettuce is quite bulky.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Pass through a fine sieve into a suitable container and chill in the fridge.
Remove from the fridge and hour before serving as you don’t want it so cold you lose the flavour. Stir in the créme fraîche, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Ladel into the serving bowls and float on a few prawns.
Serve and enjoy.
Verdict: Liquid summer. The use of the pea pods was my audacious ‘improvement’ and I feel it added considerably to the depth of peaness in this soup. The prawns are not essential, however as well as being pretty they also add nice little sweet nuggets of fishiness to the whole experience.
Drink: A good bottle of red from the Frenchman, a not so good bottle of white from the Englishman.
Entertainment: Talk of Rome, Paris and Todmorden.
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