It’s the end of Great British Pea Week, and what better time to celebrate my love for the humble garden pea! Starting life as a shrivelled up wrinkly seed, the first luscious green leaves that emerge are a welcome sight in early spring. Once they start growing, they don’t need much encouragement as they soon start to romp away, climbing my natural hazel trellis support with their adorable curly tendrils.
I’ve grown three varieties this year but the Blauwschokker purple podded pea from Sutton’s has by far outperformed the others. This heritage variety with gorgeous bi-coloured purple/pink flowers originates in Holland and can be picked and eaten as mange tout or left to grow into big round green peas. In my past experience, few peas have actually made it home to my kitchen because I get so much enjoyment from popping open a pea pod and eating them straight off the plant! The Blauwschokker is a little different to your average garden pea though. When picked early the small peas are a little sweet but when left to fully develop they become quite tough to eat from the pod.
Traditionally, this starchy peas is blended to make thick soups and stews. The most well known called Erwtwensoep or ‘snert’, is a very thick soup (think mushy pea consistency) with carrots, leeks, bacon or ham. Although I picked a bountiful harvest, I didn’t have quite enough for such a thick soup! This (would you believe it) was my first time ever cooking and eating pea soup. It’s light, refreshing, packed with flavour and is perfect lunch for a warm summer’s day.
200g podded peas
150g thick honey roast ham or ham hock
2 tsp dried mint
20g fresh mint leaves
500ml hot water
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Makes approx 4 small servings.
Remove all of the peas from their pods and rinse under cold water.
Take a large saucepan and heat up the olive oil before gently frying the onion until it turns clear.
Add the garlic and continue to cook for a mother minute, stirring continuously.
Add the peas to the pan and cook for another couple of minutes.
Add the hot water and the dried mint and bring to the boil. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the peas have cooked.
Once cooked, transfer to a blender (you may need to do this in batches). Blend the soup until it reaches as smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into your favourite soup bowl or mug and sprinkle shredded ham on top.
Enjoy hot or cold!