Minty Pea and Watercress Soup with Milk Kefir
I'm a real foodie and love the simplest things done really well... give me a table of beautiful, ripe, vital, seasonal produce, and I am in absolute heaven. And in spring, we're really spoiled for choice! Those freshest new shoots and seedlings, brimming with plant energy – and my little patch of cut-and-come-again greens, ready to go into everything from my salads and smoothies to soups and sides... so good, so simple. I've always loved the River Cottage approach to food for that reason – nothing is fussy or overly indulgent – and I am a big fan of RC alum, Naomi Devlin, who always manages to turn simple English ingredients into wholesome and flavourful celebrations. Her new book, Food for a Happy Gut, is out on April 20th, but she's very kindly allowed me to share this late spring/early summer recipe with you, which is filled with gut-boosting probiotics and energising goodness. I hope you enjoy it!
With some frozen peas and good chicken broth, you can conjure up the summer in a matter of moments with this fresh, creamy soup. The green parts of spring onions are easier to digest than the white, so stick to these if you are sensitive. If you are not sensitive, for a more prebiotic meal, use the whole onion and add a few garlic cloves. Milk kefir is a fantastic source of lactic bacteria that help soothe an inflamed gut – use coconut kefir if you are sensitive to dairy.
- 2 heaped teaspoons salted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 10 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional)
- 150g (5oz) watercress, roughly chopped
- 700g (1lb 9oz) frozen peas
- 500ml (18fl oz) chicken Bone Broth or Vegetable Broth
- Large handful of mint leaves, plus extra for decoration
- Juice of 1⁄2–1 lemon
- 150ml (1⁄4 pint) milk kefir (or live natural yoghurt)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, then add the spring onions and soften gently for 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic now if you are using it. Add the watercress to the pan when the onions are soft and sweet, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the frozen peas and broth and bring to the boil.
Half fill the sink with cold water and have a mixing bowl ready. As soon as the peas come back up to the boil and float, pour the contents of the pan into the mixing bowl and place this carefully in the cold water in the sink to cool a little.
Pour the pea mixture into a blender with the mint leaves, juice of 1⁄2 lemon and a few pinches of salt and a grind of black pepper. Whizz until velvety smooth and then taste to see if it needs more lemon juice, salt or pepper.
You can eat this soup hot or at room temperature – cool is my preference. If you want to eat it hot, reheat gently, but don’t let it boil. Pour into bowls and stir in half of the milk kefir – about a heaped tablespoon per bowl. Swirl the remainder on top, grind a little extra black pepper over and top with some extra mint leaves.
You can order Naomi's glorious book here: