Our fridge & freezer recently died and naturally, this happened on a day that wasn’t particularly convenient. Then again, is there ever a convenient time for your refrigerator to decide to call it a day? On the day that ours decided to go, I was hosting a lunch in honour of my Sister with twenty five or so of her closest friends. We were celebrating her 40th birthday. It was a lovely get together with good friends and no one, was any the wiser of the wee little nightmare unfolding in my kitchen.
I thank the heavens that by some freaky miracle, the menu I had chosen included an enormous piece of beef that had to come to room temperature before I threw it over the flames. This takes a good few hours. No fridge required – check! Another of the dishes was a scrumptious chicken dish, already in the oven and to be slow cooked for several hours (this was the dish of the day apparently). This dish definitely benefits from the lengthy cooking time and you are left with melt in your mouth meat infused with lots of my favourite heady spices. The remainder of the menu involved salad after salad after salad. I was thankful too for the many ice buckets scattered across the house – refrigerator doors were not constantly opening and closing and I held a glimmer of hope for some of the precious gems trapped inside our dying fridge! Our Mum made her beautiful Zuppa Inglese birthday cake. Anyone who knows of this cake might be well aware that it needs serious refrigeration. Not ideal on this day but we managed to balance it quite spectacularly on top of many a beverage on ice to maintain it’s cool until it’s big moment to razzle dazzle – and razzle dazzle it did!
It was quite the party, lots of noise, chatter, laughter and even tears ~ Many of which were mine at the moment I had to stand up and talk about the amazing woman I am proud to call my Sister.
So where am I going with all of this you might ask? I am getting to the pea soup……
After a great day and with the last of the goodbye’s to our guests, my family returned home and it was time to go in for refrigerator battle. Truly the last thing I felt like was rolling up the sleeves to empty and salvage any goodies before the loan refrigerator arrived shortly. It was time for me to quite possibly weep over the perishables one might have to say goodbye to. You can imagine the bounty that is in our fridge and why there might be cause for my tears but to my utter elation, most could be saved in the refrigerator and all freezer items were still perfectly frozen. I was advised by our trusty serviceman that this was thanks to the fact that the freezer hadn’t been opened all day. Yay!!! and yes, finally……here enters the delicious pea soup! It was the hero of my day.
I would hazard a guess that most people would have frozen peas in their freezer and there mine were top of the pack, beaming up at me. They would not be overlooked and what I had in store for them was suddenly and overwhelmingly exactly what I felt like sitting down to enjoy that night. The loan fridge arrived, we swapped the contents over (not as breezy as it might sound here) and a very smart husband poured his wife a glass of wine and I got cracking with the soup.
I share all of this with you now because a) one must unburden themselves of all kitchen disasters in order to move on in life (that is a lie – I keep so many a secret!) and more importantly b) because with this warmer weather, it is time to celebrate the humble green pea! I absolutely adore fresh peas! I love them in salads, in soups, as a jazzed up side dish, as smashed fritters…..the list goes on. They look stunning in the veggie patch and are easy to grow but sometimes not so easy to bring indoors – it would appear the birds enjoy eating the peas fresh from the pod like I! If it is not pea season or they are simply still too expensive to buy, a frozen packet of peas is a brilliant substitute. I think they are possibly the best frozen vegetable product, you can purchase. Nutritionally because they are picked and frozen in around 2 hours from field to packet and although not as good as the fresh / unfrozen pea, they remain surprisingly comparable. A peas vibrant colour will brighten any day and they certainly did mine. What could have been quite disastrous was instead celebrated. A house filled with your Sister, Mother and lovely friends and then later, your precious family, a glass of wine and a delicious bowl of soup – there is no use crying over warm and curdled milk! Long live the green pea!
Green pea soup
Serves 4 as a main or 6 as an entrée
I love to enjoy this soup with home made croutons (recipe below). You could skip these altogether but trust me, they are worth it! Toasted olive bread is a good substitute if you simply can’t be bothered & we all have those days!
¼ bunch fresh thyme
2 fresh bay leaves
30g butter, coarsely chopped
30ml extra virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 litre good quality chicken stock
1kg frozen peas
100ml pouring cream
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
25ml sherry vinegar
Basil oil (optional)
1–2 thick slices of coarsely torn sourdough bread
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 teaspoon grated or finely crushed garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated parmesan
To make the croutons, place all the ingredients in a bowl, except the parmesan,
and ‘dry fry’ in a preheated frying pan until each side is crisp and lightly golden.
Lastly, sprinkle the parmesan evenly over the croutons, and shake them around in the pan. Set aside to cool, uncovered.
Basil oil (optional)
(This makes more than needed for soup, so halve the quantities if making just for the soup. This will keep refrigerated for 2 days. Also lovely drizzled over pasta or pizza.)
1 bunch fresh basil
150ml extra virgin olive oil
To make the basil oil, blanch basil for 30 seconds in boiling water and refresh in iced water. Squeeze off the excess water by hand or with paper towel and then transfer the basil to a blender, add the oil and process until smooth.
Tie the thyme leaves and bay leaves together with kitchen string. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat until butter begins to foam. Add the onion, garlic and the tied thyme and the bay leaves. Sauté for approximately 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the stock and bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and simmer for approximately another 5 minutes or until the peas are tender. Add cream, return to the boil and then take off heat. Discard herbs.
Process the soup using a hand-held or regular blender until smooth. Season to taste and add 25ml of sherry vinegar. Stir to combine. Serve warm with croutons, basil oil and grated parmesan.
Tip: This is also delicious with some crispy fried pancetta.