This soup is a variation on a theme, something I often make when I see bunches of attractive scabbard leaf spinach on special offer at my favourite high road fruit and veg stall. It’s quick and simple, starts, as so many soups do, with a softened onion, a hint of garlic with potato to thicken and ends up a glorious verdant joy. When I made it this time, I had the end of a freezer pack of petits pois cluttering up the freezer, so added them with the grated zest of a lemon – a good way to get lemon flavour without using the juice which dulls the colour in a trice – and was so pleased with it, I offer up the recipe. Exact quantities can be vague and it is very attractive served with a dollop of something creamy with crisp scraps of streaky bacon. I like it for lunch or a light supper with a soft-poached egg. It’s the nutmeg, freshly grated at the end, that really lifts the flavours.
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 20 min
splash veg oil
1 garlic clove
2 bunches spinach (approx 200g)
150g frozen petits pois
1 small lemon
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
Halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Melt the butter in the oil in a lidded, medium-sized pan and stir in the onion with a generous pinch salt. Cook gently, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until slippery soft. Meanwhile, peel and chop the garlic. Rinse the spinach, roughly chop, stalk and all. Peel then dice and rinse the potato. Tip the peas into a colander to begin defrosting. Stir the garlic and potato into the onion, cover again and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and add the peas. Microplane the lemon zest over the top. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or until the peas are tender. Add the spinach, squashing it into the pan. When the spinach has wilted, the stalks softened – just a few minutes – liquidize until fluffy and smooth. Depending on your liquidizer, it may be uniformly green or speckled with dark green. Reheat, adjust the seasoning with salt and add a lavish grating of nutmeg. Serve now or later. It should be thick and luscious.