There is nothing quite like freshly podded peas. Not only is the grassy sweet taste instant joy to the taste buds but releasing them from their natural packaging is such a satisfying ritual. Popping open the lightly swollen pod to run your thumb down the spine and free the little green orbs is all part of their appeal. Then, straight into the mouth for a punch of fresh savory sweetness. Yum!
Yesterday I picked a bucketful of pea pods from my garden. The podded peas were promptly blanched and frozen leaving me with a very large pile of empty pea shells. It seemed a terrible waste to condemn them to the compost heap when they could be put to another use. I went looking for inspiration and after a spot of surfing found a recipe for Pea Shell Soup. (Thanks Green Prophet). The pods need a lot of cooking and mashing before they are edible and the obligatory straining of the cooked pods almost put me off but I’m glad I persevered- it was very tasty. Not as cloyingly sweet as pea soup can sometimes be. The lemon zest gave it a light summery taste. Next time I will omit the zest and try adding potato instead- I’ve always loved the pea/potato combo. The pods will only keep for a day in the fridge before they start to wilt so the recipe is only really useful for a glut. It’ll probably be next year before I will have such a large amount again in one picking so I will just have to be patient. Here’s how I made my soup:
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
• about 750g of pea pods –
• 500ml chicken stock – I used an Organic Kallo stock cube
• 500ml water
• 1 handful of fresh thyme
• Zest of half a lemon,
• salt and pepper to taste
I first washed the pods. Then I removed the stalks- though I’m not sure this is necessary. I heated the oil in a large pot and and added the onion to sauté for about 5 minutes until soft. Stirred in the garlic and gently fried for another couple of minutes. Next I added my empty pea pods to the pot, poured over the stock and 500ml of water so that the pods were just covered. I threw in the thyme sprigs, covered the pot and brought to a gentle roll. I left the pot to simmer for about 45 minutes until pea pods were very tender. Removing the pot from the heat to cool for a few minutes, I fished out all the thyme stalks. I blended the soup in small batches in a food processor. The lemon zest was added to the final batch before being whizzed. Then I strained the mixture through a fine sieve using the back of a large spoon to squish all the liquid out. After much squashing and squeezing the remaining stringy solid bits went in the compost bin. I returned the pot to the heat and seasoned with pepper. As I had used a bought stock cube there was no need to add more salt. There was enough soup to serve three for lunch or supper. It would also have fed four as a light starter.
Do you know of any other innovative uses for empty pea pods? I’d love to hear about them.