Spring seems to have sprung in our neck of the woods, so last night I thought we would have something light and slightly summery for our 5:2 day soup.
After two weeks in the UK, eating all kinds of things we wouldn’t normally go near (Cornish pasties in St Ives, custard tarts from the Portuguese bakery near our house in Warwick, bacon sandwiches, English Cheddar, Cadbury’s chocolate – the list is long and very distinguished), we are definitely feeling the need to get back on track!
This has to be one of the quickest and easiest soups on my easy-soup-list, so do give it a try – it takes less than half an hour, including chopping activities. Absolutely no need whatsoever for fresh peas – frozen are perfect for the job. My bag of peas weighed 450g – pretty much what we used to call a pound before Europe objected to our weights and measures – but any quantity in that general area is fine. I often add a peeled and diced potato to this soup, which gives it a thicker texture, but last night I was trying to keep the calories down a little. These efforts were then entirely negated by adding two rashers of crisp-fried streaky bacon that were lurking temptingly in the fridge…
If you have fresh stock, this is a place where it will make a difference. Otherwise, just use a good quality cube or powder – the Marigold brand is excellent if you are staying veggie. The courgette is not discernible but does add a little extra sweetness.
This soup is also delicious served chilled, in which case I would definitely omit the potato (and bacon) and would serve lemon wedges on the side.
Pea, courgette & mint soup
Olive oil (and a knob of butter if you like)
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 leeks (green parts are good here), washed, outer layer removed, and thinly sliced
1 courgette, washed and diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced (optional)
1 x 450g (approx) bag of frozen peas
200ml milk or milk replacement (soya would be perfect here)
600ml vegetable (or chicken) stock
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
A pinch of nutmeg
½ teaspoon sugar
A generous handful of mint, chopped
A few strips of streaky bacon, fried until crisp (optional)
Heat a little olive oil (and a knob of butter if using) in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and leeks, cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes until soft.
Stir in the courgette (and potato if using) and cook for another minute or two.
Throw in the bag of peas (not the bag), along with the milk and stock. Season generously with salt and pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and a little sugar. The soup will look a dubious shade of beige at this stage – stick with the programme, all will be well eventually and it will turn a particularly lurid shade of green.
Cook for about 15 minutes, then purée using a stick blender or in a jug blender. Add most of the mint and ladle the soup into warm bowls. Sprinkle the bacon bits (if using) and remaining mint on top of each bowlful.