For me, soup is not just a winter dish – I love to eat it all year round, and I particularly enjoy cold soup during the summer, even when the weather is less than summery.
Mint gives this soup a wonderfully fresh taste, and it makes a perfect lunch with some bread and cheese on the side.
Perry, the estate manager at Great Dixter, once accused me of being lazy for adding whole peas, pods and all, to the pot, but I feel they give the soup more body and intensify the flavour.
For the best result, remember to chill the soup thoroughly. If I am making it for a crowd, I will put a large bowl of it in a sinkful of iced water. Note that this soup
does not freeze well.
1 onion, chopped
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
550g shelled fresh peas or thawed frozen peas
300g unpodded peas
Handful each of flat leaf parsley and mint leaves
5tbs crème fraîche or sour cream
2tbs double cream
Salt and pepper
Handful of mixed fresh herbs, chopped, to garnish
Melt the butter in a large, heavy pan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook for five minutes, stirring, until it has softened. Pour in half the stock and bring to a boil.
Add the peas, shelled and unpodded, reduce the heat and simmer gently until tender (no more than three minutes for fresh peas, and about two minutes for frozen).
Remove from the heat, add the parsley, mint and remaining stock. Transfer the mixture to a blender and purée the soup until as smooth as possible (if you like
a very smooth soup, you might also want to strain it through a fine-mesh sieve).
Season with salt and pepper and let it cool, then refrigerate until really cold. When you are ready to serve, mix the crème fraîche and double cream together in a small bowl. Serve the soup topped with a spoonful of the cream mixture and
sprinkled with the chopped herbs.
Recipe taken from The Great Dixter Cookbook. Photography by Andrew Montgomery