A real pea souper

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Photography by Annie Peel

I’ve always had a problem with fresh peas. Frozen peas are almost always better – greener, tastier, more explosive. 99 percent of the fresh peas I have eaten quite simply aren’t fresh enough. Apparently when Captain Birdseye gets off his little offshore trawler and mounts his, for want of a better word, pea harvester, the little green fellas are cropped, hulled and frozen within a matter of minutes. For some reason this snap freezing really works with peas. It is the opposite with spinach for example. Frozen spinach tastes like shit whilst fresh spinach stays fresh for a goodly long while if looked after correctly.

Having said all that fresh peas, if truly fresh (within hours), are delicious and certainly have a depth their frozen counterparts don’t have. There. Full circle. Voila.

I had some great peas from the market the other day and then the very next day I had some crap peas. One truism about vegetables here compared to the UK is that they are picked earlier and are therefore tastier and more tender. I had never enjoyed a broad bean until I came to Ibiza.

What else can be said of peas? Herzog made a film about them starring Klaus Kinski; they didn’t really ever fit into my pea-shooter; I have seen them in paellas; they pair nicely with scallops (up to a point). And I reckon that is about it. Except for this:

Pea soup with saffron cream and fried Serrano ham

1 kilo of fresh peas in their pods
1 bunch of fresh garlic
I big phat spring onion
A sprig of mint
Olive oil
1 gram saffron
10 cl cream
1 lemon
3 slices of Serrano ham, each cut into 3
A sprinkle of very good pimenton
1.5 litres of Solan de Cabras water

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Photography by Annie Peel

Pod the peas then chop the pods and boil them for five minutes with the mint in the water. Blitz it and then blitz it again through a sieve. Reserve.

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Photography by Annie Peel

Chop the spring onion and fresh garlic and sweat them in some olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the peas and sweat them a minute or two as well. Add the reserved pea stock and boil until the peas are soft. Blitz this until really nice and smooth. Keep warm.

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Photography by Annie Peel

Toast the saffron in a dry frying pan and allow it to cool, then pulverise in a mortar and pestle (this is a very good thing to do with saffron as it makes it go further and its flavour penetrates deeper). Add the cream and squeeze in half the juice of half a lemon. Leave for a moment and it should thicken up into a nice velvety crème fraiche.

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Photography by Annie Peel

Fry the Serrano ham in a little olive oil and drain on some kitchen roll. To finish the soup, spoon on a blob of the saffron cream, sprinkle on the pimenton and lay on the ham slices.

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Photography by Annie Peel

Only do this if the peas you get are really young and fresh, under age almost. If they aren’t and you are dying for pea soup then boil some frozen peas in some chicken stock and serve with some of your very own homemade pesto.

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Photography by Annie Peel

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