18 September 2011

everyone jump on the peas train

It was Tim's birthday last Sunday. We don't really do presents, but I did get him 25 individually filled out birthday cards. Keep in mind that this came about after about a week of laughing at him and telling him there was no way I was going to get him a birthday card. At the eleventh hour, the idea of not only getting him a birthday card after all, but in fact surprising him with a card for every year of life suddenly gripped me and by the time I'd bought a few, I had to go through with the whole thing. 

(Fluffy couldn't be contained by any envelope. Fluffy also meowed a disturbingly discordant "Happy birthday to you" when you rubbed her stomach.)

There was a party on Wednesday, where we drank Purple Jesus, ate chocolate dipped potato chips (and mighty delicious they are too), several cheeses, venison salami (who knew it existed?) a whole lot of ice cream, and...speaking of outlandish ideas that I have...a cake I made that looked like Tim. It's not something I paraded around on Twitter for fear of mass unfollowings but just in case, reassure me, there's nothing tooooo weird about making a cake that looks like someone for their birthday, is there? It's worth noting that the cake's real-life counterpart is better looking, or at least has a more significantly visible chin. Tim was wearing the exact same clothes as the cake (following a conversation about which of his pants would be easiest to recreate in icing) which of course added to the fun. And maybe the weirdness. But mostly the fun.

It was such a fun night, but between one thing and another I've been feeling lingeringly seedy since, not helped by a weekend away for work. Having returned to Wellington, all my instincts tonight wailed "get take-out satay". But instead I hunted out a recipe that not only takes a bare minimum of brain effort to make it work, it's also delicious, and very good for you. Like taking your brain cells and your tastebuds out for a swim in the kind of cool, artesian mountain stream that you read about on the back of fancy bottled water.

Peas and water, that's all it is. Peas, water. And a blender. Unfortunately this recipe won't work without said blender, so if you don't have access to one, I'd change it up and make some kind of peas and rice combination instead. If you do have one though, and some peas in the freezer, then you're bare minutes from the foamiest, floamiest, greenest soup in existence. My photos don't really demonstrate how vigorously green it is, because it was on the dark side when I snapped these. I've been on the lookout for some polystyrene to reflect light a bit, but really I'm just lazily hanging out for it to continue getting lighter in the evenings. 

For all that I'm such a crusader for this soup, I was initially suspicious of it. I've known about this recipe of Nigella Lawson's for years, but always thought she was talking it up way too much. It just sounded too simple, and in my mind I pictured, like...water with peas floating in it, not this inconceivably velvety puree. 

Turns out she wasn't talking it up nearly enough. Should've trusted her, since it was Nigella and all.

It tastes gorgeous - like you're drinking the very meaning of green in itself (frozen peas have this effect on me sometimes, sorry). But it's even better if you do like I did and add a spoonful of rich, gritty white miso paste, and a few basil leaves. You could use mint or coriander too, whatever you have, or just nothing at all - but the clean, nutty pea flavour benefited from the herbacious peppery depth of basil. You could also add rocket leaves, spinach leaves, any other green bits you have slinking around in the fridge. 

Easiest Pea Soup

Adapted slightly from a recipe of Nigella Lawson's from her seminal text How To Eat.

450g frozen peas
1 1/2 cups water

Optional but recommended and awesome:

1 teaspoon white miso paste
Basil leaves

Boil together the peas and the water (plus the miso if you like) in the usual way, as if you were going to serve them just as is. Remove from the heat, carefully tip into a blender and whizz away till very smooth. Add the basil leaves at this point and blitz again. Tip into two bowls and serve.

Thanks so much to everyone for all the nice feedback on my video tutorial on how to to make ice cream! Seriously. I was braced for complete indifference, at best. And now I'm currently working on the second one: a salute to homemade pastry. 

Title via: Cat Stevens' lovely song Peace Train. And let's all just take a moment to appreciate what a babe young Cat Stevens was.

Music lately:

Like I said, I was away this weekend, and when I got home I um...listened to Mariah Carey's monumentally good MTV Unplugged album at least four times in a row. So, no change since last week, I'm afraid.

Next time: I'm not sure, but I'm in the mood to do some proper baking. 


  1. Lucky Tim all those cards, my hubby's birthday was this weekend but he didn't get a card, he did get a Japanese grilling book (luckily he loves food to) though and a homemade Sri Lankan dinner and chocolate molten puddings. Love Pea soup,in teh UK you can get bags of freshly shelled peas, wish we got them here, too lazy to do my own.

  2. Such a lovely idea to offer 25 birthday cards ! Belated happy birthday to Tim !
    We do like pea soup here too, with a lot of chopped parsley. Simple yet delicious.

  3. I love the cake. Did you eat it all in one go? I've made pea soup before but I can't help but add bacon bits into it. It's not very pure or green, but it sure is tasty!

  4. you totally crack me up, love the discussion about which pants would be easiest to recreate in icing ... thanks for the giggle :)

  5. I love the idea of that soup, I have seen it done somewhere served with fish fingers. The cake looks excellent and I love the cards idea.

  6. Don't try to deceive us; you totally chose that pea soup because you wanted to continue the theme of matching your food to Tim's pants.

  7. Well, definitely I would add miso or other seasonings :-). I quite like pea soup :-).

  8. @peasepudding

    Chocolate molten puddings sound so good :)

  9. @bunnyeatsdesign

    There was a bit of foot, a bit of leg, and a bit of face left after the party, and that was all :)

  10. Peas are such an underrated food, I love them anyway possible! At the moment I am having peas, chickpeas, lemon, mint and natural yoghurt for lunch pretty much every day. I will have to try this soup.

  11. As soon as you mentioned the optional miso, I knew this soup is for me. Awesome. So green, it looks like a bowl full of Health (with a capital H, of course). I guess that's what it is!

    And ha that Tim-cake-real-life-Tim matching business cracked me up. Awesome :)

  12. (and because it is early in the morning I used the word 'awesome' twice in that comment. ack!)

  13. Delicious! Can't wait to try that soup.. Pea soup looks interesting:)