|Porkkalaniemi, May 2012|
What is it about summer that makes me want to stay up all night, watching the light fade slowly to dusk, and wanting to be there, a few short hours later, when it brightens back into dawn again? What is it that compels us to jump on our bicycles at 11:30 PM and bike out to Kalasatama, to feel the warm breeze on our faces and blowing back our hair? Why does it feel like every day is both longer and shorter than usual, with so much to cram into every moment, I can hardly take a breath for the simple beauty of it all?
|Luhanka, south shore, Summer Solstice 2012, 11:00 PM|
I have never felt the joy of summer with such great intensity as in this adopted, Northern country of mine. I have never lived through winters so long and cold nor summers so short and precious. The light comes up, and up, and up, and the sun seems to linger in the sky forever. Gathering speed toward summer solstice, the days get longer and longer and brighter and brighter.
|Bonfire for Summer Solstice, Lake Päijänne’s west shore, 1:00 AM|
|Simple joys: a bowl of fresh peas|
Heading out after summer solstice towards the inevitability of darkening days, I want to hold onto Summer with both hands and never let it go. It used to be that Fall was my favorite time of year, but with the long, seemingly endless Winter biting on the heels of Fall, and Spring lasting just an eye-blink, Summer is what I long for with every ounce of my being. If I have my choice, I want to spend every second outside, in the glorious green nature that surrounds me here.
|Eggplant on the outdoor grill|
And if I’m spending all that time outdoors, I either need to cook while I’m out there – often a great option – or I need to take advantage of Summer’s fresh ingredients, and makes something quickly so I can be back out the door again. This Mint Pea Soup using ingredients fresh from the garden is perfect.
Grab a bag of peas, new potatoes and mint from the corner stand, your back yard, or the farmer’s market, and whip this together in less than 20 minutes. Add a fresh loaf of bread while you are at it to make the perfect summer meal. You’ll be back out on your bicycle in no time.
|Just a few ingredients, fresh from the garden.|
Summer Pea, Potato and Mint Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
One medium yellow onion diced, or two spring onions chopped into small pieces
4 cups / 1 liter water*
6-8 new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled; cut into quarters
2 liters / quarts of fresh peas, shelled
2 branches of mint, leaves picked – depends on how much mint flavor you want here
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Fry the onion until it is tender, about 2 minutes. Add the water all at once, then the potatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender. Remove from heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender or remove the potatoes from the pot, mash with a potato masher or fork, and return to the pot.
Bring the potato mixture back to a boil and add the peas and mint. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until peas are bright green, but not too soft. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a nice fresh bread.
*Tip: Don’t throw away the pea pods after you shell the peas. Rinse; then toss them in a pot, cover them with water, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the water and discard the pea pods. Use the pea pod water in replacement of the water above for added flavor.