I gave peas a chance

EARLIER this year I found a packet of Hodmedods dried peas I bought on a whim at least ten years ago but forgot about. They were well past their sell-by date but I find Nature doesn’t set much store by officialdom.

I soaked a couple of handfuls, boiled them up (it took a while), added salt vinegar and mint and they made an earthy, mealy dish of mushy peas.

I still had a lot of peas left so I planted some in a couple of plastic boxes and put them on a windowsill. I thought I could have some peashoots for salads.

To my delight, most of them grew although the shoots, or tendrils, turned out to be a little too stringy. Perhaps it’s the variety.

I transplanted them into the garden to grow as snap peas but they were just too fibrous (I reckon it is this particular variety) so let the pods swell with peas. They were sweet and fresh enough to enjoy but I had my eye on the pods. Around this time of year I love to make pea pod soup.

Here’s a slight different version. It’s simple to make. Just roughly chop the pods (you’re going to strain the soup later) and add anything else which is green. In my case it was a couple of sticks of celery and leaves, some broccoli and stalks, outer lettuce leaves, frozen peas and handfuls of soft green herbs: mint, marjoram and a couple of bay leaves.

Nor did I bother with onions as I wanted the green vegetables to shine. If I had had some spring ( green ) onions I would have added those. I wanted a nice thin soup but a cooked potato would have given me some body if I wanted it.

I gently fried the lot in a little oil (not even garlic but you could add that) until it wilted before adding a pint or so of vegetable stock – a cube – and simmered for about 20 minutes.

All that was left was to strain (it left behind a lot of fibre) and after a little adjustment to the seasoning and a bit of chopped mint I had myself a vibrant tasting soup. And all the better from being partly made from leftovers and waste.

I finished the soup off in the bowl with a little wild garlic oil I made and bottled earlier in the year.

You could, of course, do all this with any dried peas, cheaper than a packet from a garden centre. But I certainly gave these peas a chance!


Pea Pod Soup

Pea pod soup with yoghurt and a mint oil

Pea pod soup with yoghurt and a mint oil

So I was halfway to the compost bin when I asked myself why I was throwing out tomorrow’s tea before I’d eaten it. I’d been shelling peas and had a bowl of empty pea pods in my hand. Come on Dawes, they’re the making of pea pod soup.

When fresh peas in the pods cost more than a bag of frozen petit pois you don’t want to waste, do you? I sorted through the pods and tossed out any wrinkly ones, washed the rest and roughly chopped them.

What happens next depends on your pods. If they are young, tender and very fresh and you’ve taken the trouble to string them first you can cook them with some onions or shallots, a stalk of celery, peas and perhaps some cooked potato for texture and a handful of mint. You want the overwhelming flavour to be peas and the colour to be green so forget carrots. Simmer in stock, blitz and serve. If you pass it through a sieve it will be a shade more delicate.

If the pods are getting on a bit I’d use them to make a vegetable stock and then go on to make your soup. The one in the picture has some courgettes, outer leaves of lettuce and lemony sorrel. Plus some peas, fresh and frozen.

Then I got all cheffy and drizzled some mint oil (made from bashing up some fresh mint in virgin olive oil) and a little yoghurt for garnish. I haven’t reviewed restaurants for 26 years without learning a few tricks.

I’ve made a few pea pod soups this summer and they’ve varied from very good to OK. It all depends on the pods.

I eventually made a trip to the compost bin and by now the pods were a mush. But I’d got a nice little meal out of them for very little cost.


Don't waste your pods and you shell peas

Don’t waste your pods when you shell peas