Green pea soup with parmesan marshmallow


  • Serves 6 people

  • ¼ bunch thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 30 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 30 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 golden shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 litre (4 cups) good-quality chicken stock, brought to a simmer
  • 1.1 kg frozen peas, defrosted
  • 200 ml pouring cream
  • To serve: baby basil and baby rocket leaves
  • Parmesan marshmallow
  • 400 ml milk
  • 5 gm powdered agar agar (see note)
  • 100 gm Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated, plus extra for rolling
  • 2 eggwhites
  • Basil oil
  • 2 cups (loosely packed) basil (about 1 bunch)
  • 150 ml extra-virgin olive oil
01   For parmesan marshmallow, combine milk and agar agar in a saucepan and stir to combine. Add parmesan, bring to the simmer over low heat, whisking continuously. Simmer to infuse (5 minutes), then strain through a fine sieve into a cold bowl and cool until starting to thicken (5-7 minutes). Whisk eggwhite and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, fold through milk mixture in batches, season to taste, then pour into a 15cm x 20cm tray lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set (2-3 hours). Using a hot knife, cut into 2cm squares, roll in Parmigiano-Reggiano and refrigerate until required.
02   For basil oil, blanch basil (30 seconds) and refresh. Squeeze excess water from basil and purée in a blender with oil until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve lined with muslin and refrigerate until required. Makes about 160ml. Basil oil will keep refrigerated for 2 days.
03   Tie thyme and bay leaves in a bundle with kitchen string. Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until butter begins to foam (1-2 minutes). Add shallot, garlic and tied herbs and sauté until shallot is soft (5-7 minutes). Add stock and 1kg peas and bring to the boil. Add cream, return to the boil, then strain through a fine sieve, reserving liquid and solids separately (discard herbs). Process pea mixture in a blender, adding enough liquid (about 250ml) to make a smooth purée. Add remaining liquid, pass through a fine sieve, season to taste and keep warm.
04   Meanwhile, blanch remaining peas until tender (1-2 minutes), refresh, and combine with basil and rocket in a small bowl. Drizzle with basil oil, toss to combine. Divide soup among bowls, garnish with pea mixture and serve hot with parmesan marshmallow to the side.
Note Agar agar, a gelling agent derived from seaweed, is available from Asian grocers and The Essential Ingredient.

This recipe is from the November 2009 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.







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