#1. I'd like everyone to know that my grandmother would have been 102 today (she made it to 90). So please join me in giving it up for Beatrice (Kirby) White, who survived two world wars, raised a family through air raids, rationing, and post-war austerity, and lived long enough to have a slew of great-grandchildren, and to see England go from the days of the rag and bone man with a horse-drawn cart to the internet age. Not too shabby.
#2. I confess to stealing this soup from Nigella Lawson, with whom my grandmother had absolutely nothing in common beyond being English. That said, I have a longstanding fascination with Ms Lawson: so plummy, so self-parodically posh, so plushly...upholstered. You just have to love someone who swans around the kitchen in a cashmere cardigan, licking spoons, sticking fingers into dishes, and cooing about her luscious, voluptuous custard while managing to stay impeccably groomed. The best part is the by-now signature closing shot in which she creeps down to her darkened kitchen in some variety of slinky peignoir, and proceeds to eat cheesecake or bread pudding or cold mashed potatoes straight out of the refrigerator as the credits roll. You have to admit that the woman has style.
One rainy afternoon, home on the sofa with a miserable cold, idly channel-surfing and drinking hot lemonade with whisky (don't knock it until you've tried it), I was delighted to stumble upon Nigella Express. I happily settled in - along with Lucy the Wonder Dog, who's also a fan - to watch the Domestic Goddess dabble her perfectly-manicured digits about in whatever happened to be on the day's agenda. This particular episode was all about things that can be made quickly, including an intriguingly simple pureed soup made with frozen green peas.
My cold decided to hunker down for the week, and a few days later I gave it a whirl for lunch, albeit with some fairly significant changes. Because on closer consideration (sorry, Nigella!) the original was pretty boring, consisting as it did of water, peas, scallions, and a few tablespoons of pesto. BUT. It had definite potential, so I increased the amount of scallions, used fresh basil and parsley, subbed broth for water, and added coconut milk and a dash of hot sauce to make things more interesting. The result was delicious, quick, and easy as one could possibly desire: fifteen minutes from start to finish for fresh, hot, homemade soup! Pretty impressive, especially when one is shuffling around in pajamas and slippers in a Sudafed-induced haze.
Easy Peasy Green Pea Soup
~ 2 cups vegetable broth
~ 3 cups frozen peas
~ 3 scallions, sliced
~ 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
~ 1 tsp. kosher salt
~ Juice of one lime
~ 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
~ 1 cup coconut milk (lite or full fat; we know what Nigella would do!)
~ Shot of hot sauce, if you like
~ In a medium-sized pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil.
~ Add the frozen peas, scallions, parsley, salt and lime juice, then cover and return to a boil.
~ Lower the hat to medium, and allow everything to - as Nigella puts it - "bubble together" for 8 minutes.
~ Remove from heat, stir in the coconut milk, basil, and hot sauce, if using. Puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender (just be careful to avoid splatters).
~ Serve hot to chase away the sniffles.