This is basically a steal from Thomas Keller, the Californian uber-chef whose books ‘The French Laundry’ and ‘Bouchon’ have given me endless pleasure and joy. And so I've thanked him by doing this to his recipe: I am quite sure he would be horrified. This is a convenient version of Keller's, obviously infinitely more refined, recipe. But it’s still bloody fantastic. It’s meant to make four smallish portions – about enough to go in a teacup – rather than big bowls because we are being refined. Or you can always double the quantities for a bowlful each!
The Keller recipe stirs a lot of white truffle oil into the soup (about 125ml truffle oil to 3 cups peas and about 3-500ml stock), which makes a very rich soup indeed. I tend to content myself with a teaspoon or so per portion, slipped on top rather than stirred in. If you don't fancy adding something as rich as truffle oil, try some good olive oil or just a swirl of cream. Ideally, this soup should be served tepid rather than hot.
Keller serves this with little circles of parmesan crisp, which you can make if you have a flexible baking sheet. Grate parmesan into cooking rings placed on the sheet to make little disks of cheese. You need to use just enough to ensure that the parmesan melts into cohesiveness, but not enough to make a solid disc. Bake in an oven at around gas mark 3/160C/325F for 4-5 minutes and then turn them out by rolling them off the baking sheet. They’ll keep, crisp, for a few hours with no problem.The usual warnings about stock - use a home-made one!!!
- 4 cups frozen peas
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 4 tbsp salt
- 4 tbsp sugar
Put a whole load of ice into a bowl big enough to fit your favourite colander or strainer into and add cold water to this. Put it in the fridge.
Boil a largeish pan of water and add the salt and sugar. Take care as the water will boil up when you add both. When it’s good and lively, add the peas and bring them back to the boil to cook for a further five minutes or until they’ve all sunk.
Drain the peas into the colander or strainer and then plunge this into the ice water. This stops the peas cooking and preserves their vibrant colour. Whizz the peas together with the vegetable stock and then press the mixture through a strainer. When you’re ready to serve the soup, heat it up, season to taste and go right ahead!