Quick Green Pea and Asparagus Soup with Lemony Avocado and Arugula

Green Pea Soup

This soup is quickly becoming a permanent fixture in my repertoire of dinners that can be prepared and put on the table in less than 20 minutes. The original idea for this recipe is based on a green pea soup with cheese that I found in a Nigella Lawson cookbook quite a long time ago which I have tampered with out of necessity several times (most often due to the fact that I am somehow, against all odds, out of cheese at the particular moment I would like to make the soup.) Due to the seasonable nature of asparagus you can very easily go without, there’s just something about the grassiness of asparagus that brings out the mild sweetness of the peas and the deep licorice essence of fresh basil. You can serve this quick green pea and asparagus soup with leftover quiche, spinach and ricotta quesadillas, or on its own out of a large mug if you don’t want to go to the trouble of preparing the lemony avocado and arugula salad.

fastest ever green pea and asparagus soup:

3 cups of frozen green peas

1 bunch of asparagus (about 500 g), ends trimmed and any tough woody bits peeled away

2 cups of vegetable stock

1 bunch of fresh basil, roughly torn with a few set aside whole for a garnish

Kosher or Maldon salt to taste

A good buttery olive oil

Bring the stock to boil in a large pot and cook the peas and asparagus until they are both just cooked, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil and salt. Being very careful not to burn yourself blend the soup with a hand blender right in the pot or in small batches in a regular blender. Serve garnished with a fresh basil leaf and a drizzle of olive oil.

lemony avocado and arugula:

4-5 cups of baby arugula, washed and spun completely dry

1 avocado, diced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 Tbsp. olive or avocado oil

Fresh torn basil or flat parsley

Coarsely cracked fresh black pepper

Kosher salt (Maldon is lovely, too)

Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss gently to coat, serve immediately.

As a solution to Christmas insanity in the cheese selling world and a form of self-preservation I have found myself listening exclusively to electronic downtempo music outside of work, whether it be while cooking, running, walking around doing errands, etc., etc. Most of the music off of The Avalanche’s Since I Left You is like a sunny Caribbean vacation, lush and loud and kinetically energetic. Etoh is a nice distance from that type of songwriting energy, thickly sound layered and introverted music for times when that sort of escapism is welcomed with open arms.

The Avalanches – Etoh

Bright Cherry Salsa

cherry salsa

Whenever I buy cherries I have a very difficult time taking home just what I need for the next day or two; that is to say I always arrive back to my kitchen with at least a kilo and a half of these burnished ruby stone fruits. Ian doesn’t eat them like I do, still damp and chilled from the fridge out of a huge glass bowl (with a smaller bowl for the pits, of course) so I find ways to incorporate them into recipes. In addition to salsa I love them pitted and laid out flat to freeze on a baking tray, in smoothies and mixed in with maple granola and plain Greek yogurt. Once I made this salsa for the first time I couldn’t believe that I had overlooked this now obvious salsa component, the tart-sweet cherries marry perfectly with the slow burning heat of the jalapeño peppers. When pitting the cherries it is helpful to first crush them under the side of your knife as you would to a garlic clove, this allows to pit to be picked out quite easily. The beautiful dense redness of this brightly flavoured cherry salsa is a natural pair to tortilla chips, fish tacos, flank steak, baked tofu dusted with chili powder and a diced avocado salad with big bunches of cilantro.

bright cherry salsa:

1 1/2 cups of cherries, washed and pitted

5 Campario tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded (or not, if you like it spicy) and finely diced

1 bunch of scallions, both white and green chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup cilantro, stems removed

2 limes, juiced

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt or to taste

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse 4 or 5 times until the salsa  becomes a deep cherry red flecked with green cilantro and jalapeño peppers.

This song by The Avalanches is suitably bright and positive, making it easier to ignore the relentless May rain and to let optimism prevail over your Monday afternoon.

The Avalanches – Since I Left You