English pea, fava bean & mint soup

July 21, 2009

Pea and Fava Bean soup recipe

If there are two things I never can wait patiently for at my local farmers market, it would have to be English peas and Fava beans (broad beans to us Brits). I swear the season for them gets later and later each year, or perhaps I get more impatient every year.

You see, I love the clean crisp, bright flavor of both. I love the vivid green color of both (the image on this post hasn’t had the saturation boosted). I actually really enjoy just standing there and podding peas and beans for 30 minutes, with a glass of wine and some music going. There is something very calming about it, and it just ramps up my excitement for them even more.

I do however completely hate removing the second pod from a fava once it has boiled. It annoys me. It isn’t hard, muscle memory gets it done fast, I chew on the inner pod whilst working at them, but yet I still find it mind numbing. Getting 5 beans from one pod is woth the effort – one bean from one pod – better pour another glass of wine.

My tip if you don’t like shelling peas and beans – find your nearest two and half year old, and put them to work. Surprisingly ours loves it, and is rather a dab hand at it – especially if you let him through the shell across the kitchen.

At first I thought the idea of a cold pea and fava bean soup would be a waste of perfectly good peas and fava’s. I love their texture, and really wondered what a soup of them would be like. Well, as it turns out, rather tasty. Rather tasty indeed. Who knew? Oh, most people if you google pea soup.. not me though.

This pea soup recipe really couldn’t be easier to be honest. You blanch and shock cool a few handfulls of both peas and favas, blend with a little water, cream, salt and a mint leaf.

Mint is one of those flavors that has a long history with peas for me. My family (mother really) always grew runner beans (pole beans), and whenever she would serve them, or peas, there would always be some mint in there somewhere. If anything could boost the already amazing fresh taste of a just picked pea, it would be a slightest hint of mint. A delicate hand is needed though- mint is a powerful herb, and utmost care is needed when pairing it with such a light flavor as the English pea. What I did with the soup was to just add a little at a time, blend, taste, and adjust. It is easy to add more mint, but I have yet to find a way to remove it from a blended soup!

To give the soup a little more body, just a splash of cream really helps add a little richness. Again, care is need since even the light taste of cream can overpower the soup. A pet peeve of mine is a cream enriched soup that tastes predominantly of cream.

The soup is finished with a swirl of cream, and a little chopped chive. If you want to be really poncy (come on, we all kinda do..), I like to mix a tablespoon of the soup, with a splash of cream, to make a lighter version of the soup. This gets swirled into the soup, then some plain cream does, then topped with chives. I like the two tone green color that you get from it. Call me silly if you will.

Just a couple of things to note.. This soup is served either at room temperature, or slightly chilled. The second thing? as you may notice measurements are somewhat out the window for this one.. It is all about taste and texture to be honest – since peas and fava’s vary so much in size, it is really hard to say exactly how much cream/water you would use to make the soup.

English pea, Fava Bean and Mint soup recipe

2 large handfuls of English peas (in their pods)

2 large handfuls of Fava Beans (in their pods)


a couple of mint leaves

sea salt

heavy cream

2 chive stems – really finely sliced across the stem.

Shell the peas. Remove the fava’s from their outer pod. Get a large pot of salted water boiling over a high heat. Setup a large ice bath. Boil the fava’s in the salted water for 3 minutes. Hastily remove and plunge into the ice bath to completely chill. Get the water boiling again, and toss in the shelled peas. Boil for about 5 minutes, until just tender. Plunge these into the ice bath also.

I find this goes much faster if you put the peas in a metal strainer, and put that into the boiling water. When they are done just lift out the strainer with the peas in – no chasing peas around in boiling water!

Once the fava beans are cooled, remove their second pods. The easiest way here is to use your thumb nail to poke a hole in the outer shell, and gently squeeze the bean through.

Combine the peas, favas, salt, one mint leaf, 1/2 cup of water, and 2 tablespoons of cream in a blender. Blend until smooth. If the mixture is still looking very thick, add a little more water and cream. The soup should be the consistancy where it will run off a spoon easily. To much water and the soup looses all flavor.

Give the soup a taste. If it needs more mint, add the second leaf.

Push the soup through a fine mesh sieve just to smooth it out even more.

Take a tablespoon of the soup, and in a small bowl mix it with a splash of cream – just enough to lighten the color.

Spoon the soup into two bowls. Swirl the lighter soup mix into each soup, then swirl in some cream. Top with the finely sliced chives.

You Might Also Like

  • nina July 21, 2009 at 9:09 am

    I can understand your impatience, but that vibrant color so worth waiting for. Beautiful!!

  • Peter G July 21, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Mmmmm…this looks sensational! I love peas and broad beans and what a brilliant idea to combine them…and the mint really sets it off as well! Nice one Matt (and a beautiful pic too!)

  • Y July 21, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    What an amazing photo of an amazing sounding dish. Love the addition of mint.

  • radish July 21, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    I hope I unpack and organize my kitchen in time to make this – I adore fresh peas as well. I used to eat them as a kid including the shell! Looks amazing!

  • pigpigscorner July 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    The colour is amazing!

  • Irina @ PastryPal July 21, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I just found your website, and I must say, I want to eat the photography as much as I want to eat the recipes. Stunning.

  • Marta July 21, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    hahahaha I like putting kids to work too!!! It’s all about sweatshops in my kitchen! (clearly, I’m joking, please don’t have me arrested!)
    Delicious soup. The colour is hypnotic!

  • Hélène July 21, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Fabulous picture!

  • lisaiscooking July 21, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Yes, it’s the second peeling of favas that gets me. It’s always worth the effort though. Your soup is gorgeous.

  • veggiebelly July 22, 2009 at 12:11 am

    This is such a simple and delicious recipe. I love the picture!

  • Rasa Malaysia July 22, 2009 at 2:12 am

    Matt, this looks like it’s from a 5-star restaurant. I love it. I always love this kind of soup but never know how to make it. Love mints, too.

  • rachel July 22, 2009 at 5:49 am

    so green, so lovely
    broad beans – I love that you are English.
    Cooked mussels in cider (nothing else this time) with your little film in mind- they were very very good.

  • Patricia Scarpin July 22, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    It looks delicious – love the vibrant color!

  • Martina July 22, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    This is fantastically beautiful. As pure in its appearance as flavor.

  • Heather July 22, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    It’s true, it’s a shame we had to wait until the middle of summer for springtime flavors such as these, but better later than never, as they say (condolences to our east coast friends and their shitty 2009 growing season).

  • Lang July 22, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    A beauty! We’ll be back in the PNW soon. Clamming?

  • Miakoda July 23, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    The Calming Effect of Shelling Peas…..just typing that calms me 😀 I love pea soup, hint of mint and all.

  • kitchenbeard July 23, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Matt – I make a soup similar to this all the time and wonder what your thoughts are on using a vegetable stock or even chicken stock as opposed to water.

  • mattwright July 23, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Kitchenbeard – I was wondering the same thing actually. I was also wondering what it would be like if I simmered the shells of the peas in the pea water, and used that as a stock.

    Most of the time the vegetable stock I make has too much flavor for this soup – the pea and fava is such a delicate taste, and one that can be easily overpowered.

    Would love to know your version of this soup!

  • Hank July 24, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Uh…Matt? Nice soup, but in Sacramento we make it March, not July. What’s wrong with you people up there in the PNW? Don’t you have summer? Geez — my favas and peas have been done for more than two months. We’re in full-on tomato mode here, and it’s 100 degrees more days than it’s not.

    Crazy how just a day’s drive away the seasons are so different!

  • Jackie at July 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    What a beautiful bright color. I love the swirling you did with the cream. So pretty

  • redmenace August 2, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I am a HUGE fava fan. Thanks for another inspiring summertime soup! I may just have to make soup for dinner . . .

  • mallory elise August 3, 2009 at 3:18 am

    agreed. quite the color. bravo.

    hey are you familiar of the photographer Kate Baldwin? and did you know that is located here? it’s crazy. i went in and pretty much weasled my way in and begged the kid at the front desk to call someone to talk to me…so they liked my stuff. just waiting for results of a language test….i almost have a food/media related job!!

  • Rhiannon August 10, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I love the colour of this. It looks so tasty yet toxic. I adore pea soup and they are totally in season… I may have to try this baby….

  • Peter September 8, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    awesome stuff! Great colours.

  • Ash November 3, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I love this photo!! The soup is so lush and green, great colour…great soup!

  • Authentic Chinese Recipes November 7, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Wow, the cooking way of this dish is great, I’ll try it later and I hope it tastes delicious. Just one suggestion: If you add some cooking pictures it will be easier to follow!

  • Yue Edwards September 6, 2010 at 2:44 am

    beautiful soup!!! your presentation makes it look like a soup latte art~~

  • lena makiyo September 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    wow, this is amazing!!!!