Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Soup ...

Amazingly enough, it is not actually soup weather here in Galway this week. We are having one last bout of mild weather before the winter really sets in - there was even some blue sky and sunshine! Nevertheless, I have been making soup, because I like soup no matter what the weather is doing. In concession to the nice(ish) weather this week's soup is green: it's light and sprightly and fresh, as if all the rain is due to it being spring and not autumn. Of course I for one can be optimistic because in New Zealand it is actually spring and when I arrive there it will be summer! A real summer, in which there should be no need for hot soup. I do not actually plan my soup (and other food) around the weather though, I was planning on making this anyway. Traditionally pea soup seems to be made with dried split peas, but I wanted to use frozen ones which I was hoping would taste more like fresh peas, so I had a look about at recipes and there are of course loads out there. Not that I bothered to follow a recipe, soup doesn't really need one anyway.

These days I don't seem to be eating so many green things so it was high time to do something about that. In the past I have made green soups by throwing loads of green vegetables in but I am trying to go a bit more simplistic, using just one or two things so that you can actually taste the main ingredient. The dry split peas that you buy are the fully mature form of the plant and the yummy green ones that we eat are actually immature. They're also technically a fruit, like other legumes. I've always loved fresh peas; as a child it was one of the few vegetables that we would all eat and Mum would give us a handful of frozen peas to keep us quiet while she was cooking. It sounds odd, but I still like to eat frozen peas. Like every other vegetable out there, they are really high in lots of vitamins, like C and K, and lots of minerals like manganese, they're good sources of fibre and folate and have all sorts of health benefits. New scientific studies are always saying a lot about the benefits from all these nutrients in fresh fruit and vegetables, but it is surely not actually necessary to know exactly what everything in the food does? Everybody should just accept the fact that these foods are essential to good health and eat more of them. They are all anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-heart disease - basically they are the answer to modern western health problems. So why doesn't everybody just get a vege garden going and fill up on good food? Peas are actually famous in the biological sciences though - it is all thanks to observations of pea plants that mendelian genetics and our ideas about inherited genes came about. So on that note, let's get on to the best part about this whole food-blogging thing, which is of course the food!

Fresh Pea and Potato Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 onion or leek, chopped up small
1 large potato, diced
3 cups fresh or frozen peas (500 grams at least)
3 cups hot chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper
100 grams chopped, cooked bacon or ham (or leave this part out)
100 mL sour cream (this part can also be left out)

Heat the butter in a medium sized saucepan, add the onion and cook for a few minutes until it's soft.

Add the potato, peas, half the meat and stock (or water). Boil until the potato is cooked and then remove the soup from the element and blend until smooth. If it is too thick for your liking add a bit more water or stock. Season with salt and pepper.

Finally, if you are using the sour cream and meat stir these in and heat gently. Check again that it is seasoned nicely and then serve, perhaps with some toasted, crusty bread.

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