A Green Serving
And what a wonderful coincidence that I should decide to go totally GREEN a couple of days ago (before the ST article came out) by attempting my first green pea soup!
I don't know about you but I've always thought green garden peas (petits pois) to be rather insipid as a vegetable, their only goal in life being to end up as a side dish to accompany the real dish (for example, a good thick slab of steak). I remember as a kid, hating to eat my peas and counting them one by one as I carefully stabbed my fork on each. I was definitely not enamoured by peas.
So it was with great pleasure when I discovered that a single spoonful of pureed green pea soup was a heady concentration of the fresh and sweet flavors of garden peas. Instead of swirling in a dollop of sour cream, I added a mushroom cream made from dried shiitake mushrooms, which imparted an intense earthy punch to the soup. A wonderful start for a 'meatout' campaign!
If you are interested to try this out:
- To make the mushroom cream:
- soften 4 to 5 pieces of dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of hot water
- when softened, remove from soaking liquid, rinse and chop up the mushrooms (reserving 1 or 2 pieces to be sliced into lengths for garnishing the soup)
- heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, add the chopped mushrooms and some thinly sliced shallots and cook on medium heat until shallots are slightly browned
- add a tablespoon or so of white wine (or if you prefer, Chinese cooking wine), and a few minutes later, followed by a 1/3 cup of chicken broth and some of the mushroom-soaking liquid
- boil until the mixture is reduced by half, bring the fire down to low and add 1/3 cup of double cream and simmer for about 5 minutes or so until the mixture thickens slightly, season with salt and pepper
- place the mushroom cream in a blender and puree until smooth, return to pan and keep warm
- To make pea soup:
- heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add some sliced shallots and cook until softened
- add 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to boil before adding about 3 cups of defrosted green peas (about 1 and a half bags) - remember to reserve a handful of the peas for the soup garnish
- add about a tablespoon of chopped mint for flavor, and simmer the pea mixture for about 3 to 4 minutes until the peas are tender
- puree the pea mixture in batches in a blender, and now comes the hardest part - sieving the pureed soup through a coarse sieve into a pot and pressing down on the solids with the back of a huge wooden spoon (a lot of muscle work here - how I wished there was a simpler way to get all that mushy goodness out of the pureed soup!)
- reheat the soup in the pot and season with salt and pepper
- To make garnish:
- heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan and add the sliced mushrooms and reserved peas
- season with salt and cook over medium heat for a minute or two until just softened
- TO SERVE SOUP: ladle soup into bowls, swirl in the mushroom cream (or if you're like me and a stickler for design, use an icing bag or conical bag), garnish with the cooked mushroom slices and peas and a few sprigs of mint.....
And if you think you can 'meatout' for a day or two, drop by and do an online pledge, where you can:
Option 1: pledge to go without meat for a day or more.
Option 2: pledge to go meatless for the entire week or more.
Option 3: if you are already vegetarian, pledge to take a non-vegetarian for a vegetarian meal during Singapore Meatout Week
As for me... I always start with small steps and Option 1 shouldn't be too harmful for me!