I came up with this soup when asked to contribute a seasonal recipe to the Royal Horticultural Society's flower show at Hampton Court Palace. It involves a bit of work but the result is, quite fittingly, majestic.
6 tbsp good-quality olive oil
1 medium onion, quartered
4 celery sticks, quartered
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
5 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
30g flat-leaf parsley
500g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen)
50g long-grain rice
400g Greek yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large free-range egg
3 tbsp roughly chopped dill
3 tbsp roughly chopped chervil
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (optional)
salt and white pepper
- Start by making a vegetable stock. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large pot. Heat up the oil and add the onion, celery and carrot. Sauté on a medium heat for about 5 minutes; you want to soften up the vegetables without browning them. Next, add the thyme, bay leaves and parsley and cover with 1.2 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
- While the stock is cooking, get on with the arduous bit – preparing the broad beans. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Throw in the beans and simmer for just 1 minute. Drain, then refresh the beans under running cold water to stop the cooking. Next, remove the skins by gently pressing with your fingers against the sides of each bean, causing the soft bean to pop out; discard the skins.
- When the stock is ready, pass it through a sieve into a medium saucepan; discard the vegetables and flavourings in the sieve. Add the rice to the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Now add half the skinned broad beans and some salt and pepper and use a stick blender (or a regular blender) to blitz the soup until it is completely smooth.
- Whisk together the yoghurt, garlic and egg in a large heatproof bowl. Add a ladleful of the hot soup and whisk together. Continue gradually adding the soup until you’ve mixed in at least half of it. (It is important to do this slowly, otherwise the yoghurt might split due to the difference in temperatures.)
- Pour the tempered yoghurt into the pan containing the rest of the soup. Place it on a medium heat and warm up the soup while stirring constantly. Make sure the soup doesn’t boil! Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you like.
- Ladle the soup into four shallow bowls and drop in the remaining broad beans. Garnish generously with dill, chervil and lemon zest, and drizzle with the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil (this is important), plus some lemon juice, if you like.