I've always been cautious when it comes to devising my own recipes. My rule of thumb is to make the recipe as written the first time, and then play around with it after that. But somehow I rarely get to the experimentation stage where I start substituting most of the ingredients and thinking about what would work better. This is part of why I started the blog: to develop my own style of cooking that isn't just cribbed from someone else. So yesterday I devised my own cookies (coconut, maple and chocolate chip - they need some refining, but I'm sure will show up in a future entry). And today, an improvised pea soup from the ingredients I could find in the house. Adapted from a recipe I found in the Saturday Times a few years ago, but different enough that I'm going to claim some of the credit for it! Very easy to make, but so delicious.
Pea and basil soup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots (or one red onion), sliced
450g frozen or fresh peas (I think frozen probably work best, unless you have an hour to devote to shelling pea pods)
4 tbsp torn basil
2 tbsp dry white wine
400-450ml vegetable stock
80g pea shoots (go substitution crazy here - the recipe called for spinach, but I had pea shoots in the house and thought it would enhance the flavour of the peas nicely. I think rocket would also work)
salt and pepper, to taste
200ml creme fraiche
2 slices parma ham
To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots, and cook over a medium heat until soft but not browned. This takes about 5-7 minutes. Add the peas and the basil, and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Then pour in the wine, and cook until it has bubbled and reduced. Pour in enough stock to just cover the peas, and then bring to the boil. Add your salad leaves of choice, and cook until they have wilted.