Chilled pea, leek and potato soup
I think we can all agree that apart from one or two beautiful days, summer 2019 has been a bit of a weather wash-out. I have my fingers crossed for August but am not holding my breath!
However if we do get any warm evenings, for me, a chilled pea, leek and potato soup on a summer’s evening always conjures up fancy dinners on the freshly mown lawns of those that live in fancy houses in the English countryside. Probably, but not exclusively, some time in the 1970s.
I’ve no idea why I feel this way about cold soup. I guess there’s something about it that feels a little posh but also a little retro. I know my mum used to make a stunning vichyssoise back in the ’70s and ’80s. She’ll probably tell me she still makes it occasionally but I know that she started making it back when I was a kid. She would serve it chilled in little glass bowls, with cubed pieces of cucumber sprinkled on top. Like fridge croutons, floating in a sea of beautiful pale green.
You can pretty much eat any soup cold (I strongly believe that there should be no rules in cookery) but the ones made with sweeter vegetables work best when served cold. Tomatoes are famously made into gazpacho and it’s their sweetness that makes it work so well. Leeks and potatoes are also nicely sweet as are peas, which is why I’ve added them to this classic mix. Cucumber and avocado also make good cold soups, as do roasted red peppers. But this combination is my favourite and is ridiculously easy to make.
This dish serves 6 in small bowls (2 ladles each) but it will stay good in the fridge for 4 days and freezes well too.
In a large pan on a medium heat, melt some butter and olive oil and throw in the onions and leeks, stir them well and let them simmer gently for about five minutes until they begin to turn soft, then add the potatoes, chives and oregano, stir well and turn the heat down to very low. Place the lid on and let the whole lot sweat for about 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are wonderfully soft. Season well with salt and pepper.
Add the peas and stir well then pour in the stock and milk and place the lid back on and let the dish gently plop away for about 10-12 minutes, then take the pan off the heat and let the whole lot cool down to room temperature.
Blitz till gloriously smooth, then refrigerate for at least two hours or until properly cold. Serve with diced cucumber, or as I’ve done, with blanched green beans.
Eat and of course, enjoy!
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