Pea Soup, Spiced Black Figs, Ibérico Ham and Goat’s Cheese

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After the drama of the first three courses of the evening of Pop up Belfast, the soup would be the course to simply deliver on taste and texture without any dramatic effects.
We placed a bowl with half a grilled sweet spiced fig, some crisps Ibérico ham and some crumbled St Tola goats cheese into a bowl and garnished them with a little rocket cress. The chefs then walked around the tables behind the waiters and we poured the fresh, simply flavoured pea soup, fresh and vivid green in colour into the bowl.
As the hot soup hits the spiced fig the smells of all of the spices that the fig had been marinated in are release and the dinner gets a sense of the flavour to come.  
This soup is a very simple dish to make at home and well worth the effort, all of the flavours from the soup and the marinated fig are pulled together with the salty goat’s cheese and Ibérico ham a truly great combination!!

Serves 10;


For the vegetable stock;

2 onions
1 leeks
2 sticks of celery
3 carrots
1 bulbs of fennel
4ltr water
1 head of garlic, sliced in half
4 star anise
2 bay leaves
1tsp white peppercorns
1tsp pink peppercorns
1tsp coriander seeds
1 cup of mixed coriander, tarragon, parsley and basil
½btl of white wine

For the soup;

1tblsp extra virgin olive oil
25g butter
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1kg frozen peas
1ltr vegetable stock
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the fig;

2 cloves
1 star anise
1tsp 5 spice powder
1tsp cinnamon powder
1tsp ground ginger
5 very ripe plump black figs

To serve;

250g St Tola goat’s cheese crumbled
5 slices of Ibérico ham cooked until crisp and golden
Small punnet of rocket cress


For the vegetable stock;

Chop all the vegetables into a rough dice and place in a large pan, cover with water and add the garlic, star anise, bay leaves, peppercorns, and coriander seeds. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10mins. Add the herbs and simmer for a further 3mins, now add the wine and remove from the heat, allow to cool. When cold place in the fridge. Leave the stock to marinade for 2 days in the fridge. Then strain and reserve liquid ready for use. This will make more of the vegetable stock than needed for this recipe, but any left over stock can be kept in the freeze ready for anther use.

For the soup;

Gently heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan, add the chopped onion and cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the 1ltr of stock and bring to the boil.
Place the soup and frozen peas into a blender in batches depending on the size of your blender and blend the soup, until you have a very smooth, vivid green puree.  Pass the soup through a very fine sieve and store in the fridge ready for use.
It is important not to cook the peas in the soup as they will discolour; we are looking for a very fresh taste of pea from this soup with a very deep green colour.

For the figs;

Place the cloves and the star anise into a mortar and grin to a powder with a pestle. Add this powder to the other spices and mix well.
Cut each fig in half and place onto a tray, sprinkle over a little of the spice mixture, wrap the figs in cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge for 1 hour.
Remove the figs from the fridge and brush with a little oil. Heat a ridged grill pan and when hot grill the figs on the cut side only for 4-5mins. This will intensify the spices and draw out the sweet nature of the fig. keep figs hot ready to serve.

To serve;

Place the soup into a pan over high heat and bring to the boil.
Place 1 half of fig into each bowl, crumble over the goats cheese and the crisp Ibérico ham, garnish with a little rocket cress and bring the bowls to the table.
Pour the soup into serving jugs and pour over the prepared bowls.
Eat and enjoy!!!!!!

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