How to feel rich for a quid: chilled pea and mint soup

I’ve just spent the last four Fridays cooking and demonstrating recipes from The French Home Cookbook at Divertimenti (I’m still on their website as I type) and this, along with parmesan shortbread and chocolate marquise (both to come, I promise) was one of the stars.

Chilled soups are, to the uninitiated, sometimes a little difficult to love but, I promise you, when the heat rises at the end of this week and you have run out of salad ideas, this is a wonderful alternative. It takes no more than 25 minutes, can be dressed up to make it more substantial (with, for example. some croutons, fried bacon or soft goat’s cheese), requires only the most store-cupboard-friendly of ingredients and, for those who care, is gluten-free. The original recipe called for fresh peas but I have very successfully made it with frozen. If you can’t be bothered with the sieving, it will still taste delicious, just not quite so velvety.

Chilled pea and mint soup
Makes enough for 3-4, depending on appetite

Cupboard (or things you may already have)
onions, 2-3 medium-sized (30p)
butter, 20g (7p)
frozen peas, 500g (80p)
vegetable stock, 500ml (15p)
a pinch of sugar (2p)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shopping list
fresh mint leaves, a good handful (15p)
crème fraîche, 200ml (56p)

How to
1. Peel and finely chop the onions.
2. Melt the butter on a low heat in a saucepan, add the chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes until soft but not coloured.
3. Add the peas and stock and cook for another 15 minutes on a low heat.
4. Meanwhile, finely chop the mint leaves.
5. When the peas are ready, sieve if you wish at this point then blend.
6. Stir in the sugar and crème fraîche, season to taste and leave to cool.
7. Serve chilled with a sprinkling of mint leaves.

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