This is loosely based on the French pea soup Potage Saint-Germain, or at least a winter version off. Here, I’m not using any form of smoked ham hock (or bacon) nor using split green peas as I can’t buy either. Instead, I’m going with big fat mushy marrowfat peas that are popular in the UK. As a kid during winter there was invariably a huge pot of Scotch Broth (to be slightly pedantic here, apparently if it’s made with mutton, rather than beef, it’s called Hotch Potch) on the stove (think Arga). After a large portion of the stew I would grab a chair, as I was quite small as a child, and dive into the pot to grab yet more of the marrowfat peas. Off course, I didn’t care that there were less for the others! I just had to satiate my appetite with those big, squelchy peas that I loved so much. And this Leek, Lettuce and Marrowfat Pea Soup certainly hits the spot. To the extent I was surprised at how tasty this is, regardless of the fact it’s vegan suitable, gluten-free and with very few ingredients. For me leeks really do come into their own at this time of year, to the extent I very seldom buy them at any other time. Mine gave off a heady – verging on horrible – stench whilst prepping them, which is a sure sign there’s going to be loads of flavour going on. And I’ve gone with sautéed or pan-fried cubed potatoes instead of the more traditional croutons as I’m not overly keen on fried bread. As for herbs, I haven’t even used a bouquet garni as I couldn’t be bothered to tie herbs within a green section of one of the leeks. I just snipped fresh parsley into the soup before serving. What a slob! Quel rustaud! Oops, hoping the French term isn’t too rude as I’ve just had it translated online – yes, my French is that bad, unfortunately.
Leek, Lettuce and Marrowfat Pea Soup, with pan-fried cubed potatoes
- 100g (3.52 oz) x dried marrowfat peas, soaked overnight in plenty of water
- olive and sunflower oils
- 200g (7.05 oz) x leeks (weight after trimming them), white and pale green only, trimmed, sliced crossways into discs and thoroughly washed
- 1 x dried bay leaf, ripped
- 60g (2.11 oz) x Little Gem lettuce (small version of romaine and this weight after trimming them), trimmed, washed and shredded
- 500 – 700ml (1.05 – 1.47 US pt lqd) x water
- 1 – 1 1/2 x organic vegetable stock cube/s
- 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to personal taste
- 1 – 2 medium sized long white potatoes per person, scrubbed, partially boiled, peeled when cool enough to do so and cut into cubes
- garlic cloves – optional
- fresh parsley, to serve
- single/light cream, to serve
- lots of freshly milled/ground black pepper, to serve
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Before soaking the marrowfat peas do check them over for any sign of holes drilled into them, presumably by some nasty. Discard any that have holes, soak, then check again and discard those if necessary. Next day rinse them well and add them to a large heavy-based saucepan with lid. Put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6), bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least 40 – 50 minutes to get them soft enough. If there are some shells floating on the top (like small jellyfish) that is usually a good indication they’re beginning to soften. Grab those with a slotted spoon and discard. My packs instructions include Bicarb of soda. The last time I tried using it my peas literally disappeared on me!
- Pour in enough olive oil to coat the base of a large heavy-based saucepan and put on heat No 3. Add the leeks and bay leaf, stir through and add a lid for the first 15 minutes, checking them before this time is up. Take off lid, reduce heat to No 1 and continue to pan-fry until they just start to catch on the base of pan, stirring through occasionally. Don’t let them burn, though. Mine took about 40 minutes in total.
- Pour in the first measurement of water (as in 500ml), add 1 stock cube, up the heat to No 4, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until the leeks are nicely soft, about 20 minutes should do. Add the lettuce at the end of cooking time for the leeks, as they will wilt very quickly. Sprinkle over the cayenne, remove the bay leaf and take off heat. When cool enough to do so pour this base into a blender or liquidiser and blitz until smooth. Pour back into the saucepan and, as I did, prep the rest of the stock. Pour that in to adjust the consistency to personal taste. Add the bay leaf again and put on heat.
- Meanwhile, if the peas are soft enough add them to the soup after blending. I far prefer the textures going on here if they’re not blended. Besides, I’m not overly keen on a thick potage.
- Once soup is hot serve in warm bowls with a little cream and freshly snipped parsley. All mine needed was lots of freshly ground black pepper.
- For the potatoes, put them on in lots of cold water and a little salt. Keep them in their skins. Put on heat No 4 with a lid, bring to a boil and reduce heat to No 2. Only partially cook them. Test with a fork and if the tynes can just about pierce take off heat, drain and allow to cool before peeling them. Then, slice off their edges to get them more rectangular, slice them lengthways into a bout 3 strips or according to how large they are. Turn them and slice crossways into cubes.
- Put a heavy-based pan or skillet on heat No 3, add a good glug of sunflower oil, carefully add the potatoes and allow to settle. Using a fish slice prise them off the base of pan, just in case they’ve stuck to it. I use two forks to lift them over to get them nicely golden on all sides. Takes me about 20 minutes to get them really golden in colour. Remove them with a slotted spoon unto some kitchen paper or towels and add them to the plated soup just before serving. Garlic could be peeled, sliced in half and fried until golden and removed before adding the potatoes.
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