Simple Pea and Garlic Soup
“If you have a bag of frozen peas stashed away, you’re always halfway to something delicious”
Take three ingredients, take one more if you want, and then — maybe — take just one more. It’s as simple as that. These very straightforward recipes can be made with minimum effort and ingredients, but the more things you add, the better they get. The only ingredient I’m going to assume you have already is salt and pepper, everything else gets added to the total. However, feel free to use these ideas as starting points for your own experimenting based on what you have to hand.
It was in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook How To Eat that she spoke reverently of frozen peas, referring to them as a “green meat,” and it’s from her that this recipe is inspired. She’s right — they’re so much more than a side dish. If you have a bag of frozen peas stashed away, you’re always halfway to something delicious: a simple pasta or risotto, a curry or braise, or this soup. When it comes down to it, this is really just peas and water blitzed up — so if you’re even slightly on the fence about your love of peas, this might not be for you. But its simplicity is also what makes it so delicious, with a fresh bright green flavour and delicate, garlicky creaminess. It’s light enough to be eaten any time of year, but hearty enough to be a full meal with lots of bread on the side for dipping. Tiny but mighty, peas give you a solid hit of protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, and iron: truly a freezer staple that deserves our love.
Peas + Garlic + Olive Oil
For each person you’re feeding, place one garlic clove, one and a half cups of frozen peas, and one cup of water into a saucepan, plus a good solid pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the peas are soft, remove from the heat, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil per person and then process to a puree using an immersion blender. If you have a high speed blender this will be extra velvety-smooth, but an immersion blender or indeed, whatever implement you have, will work just fine. Divide between serving bowls, sprinkle with more salt and pepper to taste, and, if you wish, drizzle over an extra splash of olive oil. I find this tastes best when it’s just slightly hot as opposed to being pure magma, but I also like the soup bowl to be warmed first. You, of course, can cater to your own fussiness levels.
+ Cumin + Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
A sprinkling of ground cumin gives warm savoury depth and spice, and pumpkin seeds, toasted in a pan for a few minutes, add delicious texture and bumps up the protein further. I admit, I was swayed by the green-on-green aesthetic effect here, but you could use any seed or nut you prefer.
This is a very simple recipe, but it’s a great starting point for more additions — you could consider blending in lemon zest, basil, spinach, turmeric, ginger, mint, different stock cubes, white miso paste, hot sauce — or simply more garlic, because there’s no such thing as too much garlic.