FRESH GREEN PEA SOUP
When Grandma was a child, she would help her mother to pick green peas in the garden, then she would sit beside the kitchen table to help in shell them. Out would pop peas of all sorts of sizes and sometimes, ugh, there might be a little worm inside. Cooking times for big and baby peas are radically different and one way of solving the problem is to make a purée with the old ones, then add the new little ones as garnish. A grandchild to help sort the peas is very useful, Lucy is particularly good at it.
3½ pounds/1.5 kg peas in the pod
2 quarts/2 liters water
Salt and pepper
3-4 sprigs mint (optional)
1 cup/225 g butter
A long French roll for croutons (optional)
1. Shell the peas, then sort them into two bowls with the fat older peas in one bowl and the smaller new ones in the other. Discard the pods.
2. Bring the water to a boil with a little salt. Add the fat peas and mint and simmer until the peas are very tender and squishy, 15-20 minutes. Strain them, discarding the mint and reserving the water.
3. Purée the cooked peas with about half of the reserved water in a food processor. If making croûtons, set aside about a quarter of the butter, then dice the rest and add it to the pea purée. Work again until smooth.
4. Bring the rest of the reserved water back to a boil, add the small peas and simmer until just tender, 5-7 minutes. Drain the peas, then stir them into the pea and butter purée. Taste, adjust the seasoning and set the soup aside.
5. For the croûtons: Cut the French roll diagonally into 1/2-inch/1.25-cm slices. Melt the reserved butter in a frying pan and fry the bread over medium heat, turning once, until browned, 2-3 minutes total.
6. Just before serving, warm the soup until very hot — do not let it boil or the butter will separate. If the soup does separate, for example when reheating, work it again in the food processor. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve the soup with the croûtons floating on top.