Saturday, April 14, 2012

Cream of Green Pea Soup

While the split- or dried-pea soup is more popular these days, fresh peas or even pea-pods were just as often used to make soup in the 1920s. Recipes called for a white sauce into which the cooked peas, or pea pods, were sieved. I'm not sure when the first canned soups came on the market, but in 1919, in Rockhampton of all places, Heinz advertised a cream of tomato and a cream of green pea soup alongside its range of canned baked beans, spaghetti, picked onions and relishes. By 1928 canned soups had become a pantry standard. Readers didn't need the women's pages to tell them that cream of tomato, pea or celery soups made for "delicious little dinners in flat or house... served straight from the pantry shelf, via and electric or gas stove".

My green pea soup has been adapted from one of Boulestin's. Whereas his stock is made with a chicken carcase, lean bacon, an onion and a little mint, I already had a plain stock made from last week's roast chicken so I sauteed the onion and bacon, added the chicken stock and then stirred in the cooked peas, pureed with milk. I also followed his directions for thickening the soup with an egg yolk and cream.

Cream of Green Pea Soup

500g green peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup milk, or half milk and half cream
1 egg yolk
30g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 rashers lean bacon, diced
750ml chicken stock 
60 ml cream
Fresh mint

Boil peas in salted water about 5 minutes, until tender; drain and whiz to a puree with the milk and egg yolk in a food processor. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan melt the butter and saute the onion and bacon a few minutes until onion is soft. Add chicken stock and bring nearly to the boil, then stir in the pureed peas and milk and bring to the boiling point. Just before serving, add a good dollop of cream and a little mint, finely chopped. Serves 6.

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