I have to confess to a guilty secret – I am a huge fan of Come Dine With Me. Generally speaking I am not a fan of reality TV shows but there is something about this one that I love – maybe it’s the frequent ineptitude, lack of food knowledge or hapless social skills but I just can’t help it.
One common theme on the programme is that of soup – every time someone makes soup as a starter it is condemned as lazy, uninspired and overly simple – and that’s before it has been tasted. This always surprises me, not just because I love soup but because it is so easy to elevate it into an elegant dinner party dish.
This chilled pea soup is light and flavoursome and I would happily eat it just as it is, as a simple mid-week lunch. It is a great way to use up a glut of peas from the allotment but works just as well with frozen peas.
The recipe I used came from Jason Atherton’s Maze cookery book where nothing is uninspired! He garnishes the soup with spring onions, peas, edible flowers and confit shallots and then serves it with parmesan ice cream – delicious. Jason serves the ice cream on polenta tuiles but I used parmesan crisps which worked beautifully.
This really is not a “lazy” soup but it is worth all the effort if you have friends over for lunch a more formal meal.
Chilled Pea Soup Recipe
1 Onion (finely sliced)
3 oz / 75g Butter
9 fl oz / 250 ml Chicken Stock
9 fl oz / 250 ml Whole Milk
1 lb / 500g Peas (fresh or frozen)
Salt & Pepper
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onions. Sautee over a low heat until soft and translucent. Pour in the stock and milk and bring to the boil, tip in the peas and bring back to the boil then remove from the heat.
Strain the peas and onions over a jug then put into a liquidizer with half the liquid and blend (you may need to do this in two batches). Push the soup through a sieve to make sure it is really smooth then add more of the stock/milk liquid until you have the consistency you want. Season to taste.
Cover the soup and chill before serving in cold bowls garnished with chopped spring onions, peas, edible flowers and shallot confit (recipe below). Serve with a scoop of parmesan ice cream on a parmesan crisp (recipes below) on the side.
Shallot Confit Recipe
9 long shallots – finely chopped
7 fl oz / 200 ml Olive Oil
1 Sprig of Thyme
A large pinch of Sea Salt
Put all the ingredients in a heavy based pan. Cook over a very low heat for 30 minutes until the shallots are soft and translucent. Allow to cool, discard the thyme and put into an airtight container and store in a cool place (use within a week). Drain off the excess oil before using.
Parmesan Ice Cream Recipe
500 ml Double Cream
140g finely grated Parmesan
Heat the cream until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated parmesan. Keep whisking until the cheese is melted. Sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps. Place the bowl of cream over a bowl of iced water. Use a stick blender or electric hand mixer to mix on low until the cream cools then increase the speed and keep blending until it is completely cold and has thickened to a custard like consistency.
Pour into a shallow container and freeze.
This forms quite a dense ice cream so remove from the freezer 10 mins before you need it and use a cutter to remove disks of the firm, savoury yumminess.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4
Finely grate the parmesan.
Put a sheet of greaseproof paper on the back of a baking sheet (this makes it easier to remove the crisps). Place a 2″ cookie cutter or cooking ring onto the baking sheet, put a heaped teaspoon of cheese into the ring and spread it around – make sure the edges are particularly well coated. Don’t press the cheese down – it will melt into itself and create a lacy effect.
Move the ring along to create the next disc and repeat until you have used all the cheese (or filled the sheet!). You only need a couple of mm in between discs as they don’t spread much.
Place the tray in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden and bubbling. Careful – they burn quickly after this stage. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight tin.
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