Easy peasy soup

Posted on: 4th July, 2016

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22, Connolly Street, Clonakilty info@lettercollum.ie – www.lettercollum.ie – 0238836938

Our peas are up and podding up nicely. They enjoy sun and rain so have been steadily coming on.

We don’t grow too many real peas and truth be told half the time our peas end up in a serious muddle, the mange tout look very similar until a certain stage and often the ‘pea’ peas get harvested too early in a case of mistaken identity. We’re well aware of this problem but don’t seem to be able to get on top of it. Each year finds us humming and hawing and scrabbling around looking for the identifying markers that were carefully put in at the end of the row when the peas were planted. They mysteriously seem to relocate and confusion abounds.

Not many people grow regular peas anymore, there’s time involved and by the time enough are podded for dinner it’s easier to buy them frozen but it surely is a sweet treat. I like to eat them like sweeties, picking a few pods and munching away whilst gardening. They bring back childhood memories of sitting on the doorstep with my mum in the sunshine when I would help with the shelling and no doubt eat as many as landed in the colander.

It’s worth noting that peas began to deteriorate as soon as they’re picked, the sugar rapidly converts to starch, which is why frozen peas are so successful. If you can get you hands on recently picked peas they are delicious, but if they’ve travelled far it’s maybe not worth the effort.

There must be some massive pea farms out there somewhere, filling freezers worldwide with packets of neat green peas. I checked out the processing and came up with these interesting facts:

Peas are harvested, transported from the fields and frozen within 150 minutes, that’s only two and a half hours – 30 minutes picking by a machine called a ‘viner’, which sucks up the peas from the field and removes the pods, 30 minutes travelling to the factory then 90 minutes to wash grade and freeze. It takes only six minutes to freeze a pea!

This all makes them the ultimate convenience vegetable, ready to use and very easy to prepare.

Here’s a recipe for a light and fresh pea soup, equally simple to make with fresh peas or frozen peas. It can be eaten hot or, if the heatwave comes, chilled. Either way it’s good served with a little crème fraiche Pea and Mint Soup Ingredients: 1 onion 1 medium potato 25g butter or olive oil 750mls vegetable stock 450g peas – fresh or frozen a bunch of mint, roughly chopped Method: Peel and chop the onion. Heat a saucepan, melt the butter or add the olive oil then stir in the chopped onion. Cook on a gentle heat.

Peel the potato and dice small, stir in with the onion and add a little salt and pepper to season. Cook gently for ten minutes without browning. This slow cooking is important as it adds depth of flavour.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the potato is tender then add the peas. Bring back to the boil then simmer for five minutes. Take off the heat, add the chopped mint and puree using whichever gadget you own — stick blender, liquidiser or food processor, until smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding some water if the soup is too thick and check the seasoning.

Serve either hot or chilled with a little dollop of crème fraiche.
Easy Peasy! Enjoy July!

Karen

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Fascinating lecture coming up in Clonakilty.....Secrets of the Deep: The Underwater Cultural History of West Cork
by Julianna O'Donoghue and Connie Kelleher
in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty on Thursday Mar 28th 2019 at 8pm.

With the second longest coastline in Ireland, the County of Cork has borne witness to extensive maritime activity throughout time. The preponderance of shipping that passed by or utilised the many ports, harbours and hidden havens along its jagged coastal edge has left its cultural mark in the form of shipwrecks on the seabed. The record for the large quantity of wrecks off Cork's coast is growing all the time as new discoveries are made. The talk will begin by providing an overview of this underwater cultural heritage and how underwater archaeology is identifying, surveying, recording and preserving this finite resource, including detailing the legal requirements that are in place to protect these important wreck sites. It will then focus on a time when piracy and smuggling was in its heyday along the southwest coast, in the early part of the seventeenth century, and provide evidence from two shipwreck sites that may have possible direct links to a time that is only recently revealing its secrets.

Underwater archaeologist Julianna O'Donoghue is director of Mizen Archaeology Ltd., based in Clonakilty in West Cork. Mizen has undertaken a multitude of high profile underwater archaeological surveys and excavations, and has made several important underwater archaeological discoveries. These include the 17th-century Colla Wreck located off Leamcon near Schull in West Cork that could be the possible remains of one of Dutch pirate Captain Claus Campaen's prizes from 1625.

Dr Connie Kelleher is a member of the Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU), National Monuments Service in the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. As part of her work she has carried out several shipwreck excavations that has included the remains of a Spanish Armada wreck, a 17th-century possible Cromwellian flagship and a wreck in Dunworley Bay in West Cork that could be directly associated with the Algerine raid on Baltimore in 1631.
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