For chefs the first few months of the year are a bit of a waiting game. With the trees and fields still relatively bare there is not a huge amount of fun, new seasonal produce rattling around for us to play with. Yes, blood oranges are incredible and I love a root vegetable as much as the next person but after the long winter months I do find myself counting down the days to the appearance of the first spring goodies: Yorkshire forced rhubarb, purple sprouting broccoli, beautiful and tiny earth-clad Jersey Royal potatoes and now (finally) the first fresh peas, still in their bright green pods with curling shoots.
I hate frozen peas – which surprises a lot of people, who seem to think that these staples of the childhood plate are too inconspicuous and inoffensive to illicit such a strong reaction – however, fresh peas are a different thing altogether. Prizing open a pod to reveal the row of perfect green orbs is incredibly satisfying and these are definitely best eaten straight from the pod. They are fresh, moreish and a million miles away from their insipid, frozen brothers. One of the classic recipes that resurfaces year after year when peas appear is soup. Almost all of these recipes are variations on the classic flavours of pea and mint or pea and ham, both of which are undoubtedly delicious but these little green guys have a bold and punchy flavour that can handle much stronger accompaniments. The following recipe takes the elements of Thai green curry and pairs them with peas to make a colourful, heady and fragrant soup rich with creamy coconut, lemongrass and kaffir lime. The humble English pea holds its own amongst these exotic flavours and the end result is a vibrant and warming soup that is guaranteed to blow away the winter cobwebs!
Note: this recipe uses a Thai green curry paste, I will include a recipe for the curry paste I make at a different time, but for this soup I confess that I cheated and used the Mae Ploy brand paste which is a brilliant and fiery, quick alternative (and one used by a good number of the Thai people I know!)
Thai Green Pea Soup
- 1tbsp coconut oil
- 1 small onion sliced
- 2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
- 500g fresh green peas (around 1.3kg of pods)
- 300ml vegetable stock
- 300ml coconut milk (I used 100g of creamed coconut from Spice Mountain dissolved in 200ml water to get a thick cream, but normal coconut milk would do)
- Salt to taste
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
- 2 tbsp mixed seeds finish
Shell your peas, reserving 6 pods.
Heat the coconut oil in a medium saucepan and saute the onion until golden. Stir in the curry paste and cook out for two minutes until fragrant.
Add the peas and the 6 pods and mix. Finally pour in the stock and coconut milk, reserving a little to drizzle over when serving. Simmer until the peas are tender (around 10 minutes).
Discard the pods and then blitz the soup in a blender until smooth. Season and finish with a drizzle of coconut milk and a scattering of mixed seeds and shredded kaffir lime leaves.