Saturday, 26 June 2010

Soup Society - Part III

A few weeks ago I arranged to go to Hix on Brewer Street to meet a friend to finally taste some of Mark Hix's food. Obviously been pretty broke most of the time, we arranged to meet early and go eat off the pre theatre menu  as it's  3 courses for £19.95 each.

As I sneaked out of work early to get into town, a torrential downpour started in Hackney and there was no sign of it stopping as I walked out of the tube station at Oxford Circus. By the time I'd walked to Brewer Street I was drenched from head to foot, even my shoes were soaked right through. As I pushed the heavy door open and poked my head around it, the receptionists gasped with horror at the extent of my drenching, and quickly surrounded me helping me get my coat off and offering me a towel to dry my hair. 

I sat down, looking like a cross between a drowned rat and a fish out of water. I asked for a glass of house red and started to look around the restaurant taking in the amazing Damien Hirst mobiles hanging above the bar. I must of been staring into space for a while as the waitress coughed after standing with a glass of wine for me for a couple of moments to long. As I turned to answer her, I saw over her shoulder Mr Hix was sat at the next table looking and smirking at me and my prolonged wonder of the dining room. This all proved to be a bit much for me I must admit and I suddenly reverted to a old childhood mannerism of mine, which I use to adopt when I use to get shy as a child (which was quite often)- sitting on my hands and  looking down at my shoes.

Thankfully my lovely friend, turned up looking as glamorous and well turned out as always and thankfully diverted all attention away from me. We quickly ordered to meet the 6.30pm curfew on the pre theatre menu. This proved quite easy as there were only two choices for each course so we obviously we ordered the opposite of each other so that we could taste everything that was available. After ordering we became lost in the usual conversations of life, love and future endeavors, and were interrupted with the arrival of our starters.

I had ordered deviled chicken livers on Sourdough and minted pea soup for my friend. To be honest, even though there were only two choices on the menu, I chose the livers as my friend has decided to stop eating meat again and it meant that I could eat all of the dish and still try hers at the same time! The chicken livers were moist and velvety like they should be, with a good kick from the cayenne pepper, but the revelation of the evening was my friends minted pea soup. The soup not only hot, bringing warmth back to our bodies wrapped in soggy clothes but fresh, delicate and smooth. My eyes lit up with enjoyment as I drank for the stolen spoon full, and went to steal another spoonful. A spoon fight quickly developed as my friend tried to guard her soup with no holds barred "Back off, this is mine its too good to share. Gutted,  I retreated straight away in fear of been wrapped on the knuckles with the back of her spoon.

I can't really remember much of the rest of the meal to be honest, not because of copious amounts to drink, in fact I only had glass of wine to drink. Its because the minted pea soup was a dish to be hold and played on my mind for days on end. I know that minted pea soup isn't hard to make in fact its quite easy I guess, but the consistency and texture of what I tasted in Hix was something else. So much so I was determined to recreate the very same soup not only for my self but for the last run of Secret suppers.

Minted Pea Soup 
Serves roughly 4 - 6 people

2 leek, roughly chopped and washed
2 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
50g butter
about a litre and a half of Veg stock
500g frozen peas - easier than podding loads of pods. (I did include some fresh peas as I want the pods for the stock )
5 stalks of mint  - half finely chopped rest left on stems
Creme Fraiche
Maldon and freshly ground black pepper

For Veg stock 
1 Leek 
1 onion
1 Carrot 
2 stalks of celery 
A load of empty pea pods
Parsley stems 
About 3 litres of water 

1. Wash leek, cut length ways and place in pan of water with peeled onion chopped in half, carrot chopped in half length ways, parsley stalks and pea pods. Place on heat and let it work its magic on a gently roll for a couple of hours. 
2. Once its worked its magic over a couple of hours, remove from heat and  pass through a sieve, to remove veggies.
3. In a separate pan, cook the onions and leeks in the butter until soft. 
4. Add the stock and season with Maldon and pepper and simmer for around 20 minutes.
5. Add peas and the stalks of mint with the leaves on and simmer for a further 6 to 7 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and then liquidize in a blender.
7. Sieve through a fine mesh sieve into another pan or bowl. 
8. Add a tablespoon of Creme Fraiche and the rest of the mint and stir through.Add more seasoning if needed.

This soup can be served either cold or hot, normally served if hot with a small spoon full of Creme fraiche.

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