Pea and Mustard Soup – The Book Thief: The Literary Kitchen #12

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.
– Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Pea and Mustard Soup - The Book Thief: The Literary Kitchen #12
Pea and Mustard Soup – The Book Thief: The Literary Kitchen #12

Liesel Meminger couldn’t have written a better line to end her book with. Like her, my relationship with words too is of love-hate kind. I have loved them in times when everything seems right and when things have gone awry, I have hated the same words with a vengeance. However, I have always tried to do justice to them and make them all right in the end.

I read The Book Thief a couple of years ago and fell instantly in love with it. Liesel finding her emotional outlet through written word is what kept me hooked and especially her love for books during World War II when Nazis were looking to destroy them. What makes the book even more interesting is that it’s narrated by death who is haunted by humans, ironical isn’t it?

The book is set during World War II which means scarcity of food and bare necessities. All the the Hubermann family could manage is pea soup. It’s watery, it tastes horrible but that’s all they’ve got.

“Mama usually made pea soup. On Sunday nights she cooked it–and not just enough for one or two repeat performances. She made enough to last until the following Saturday. Then on Sunday, she’d cook another one. Then on Sunday, she’d cook another one. Pea soup, bread, sometimes a small portion of potatoes or meat. You ate it up, didn’t ask for more, and you didn’t complain.”

I tried to make a pea soup that tastes good, for Liesel’s sake, and added mustard greens to it. You know how Amrita has been talking about seasonal eating on her Instagram page and the latest video (check it out here). That’s what inspired me to use mustard greens, and fresh green peas are in season anyway.

Green Peas – 100 gms
Mustard Greens – 50 gms (roughly chopped)
Onion – 1 (chopped)
Milk – ½ cup
Water – 1 cup
Garlic – 1 clove (grated)
Black pepper – ¼ tsp (freshly ground)
Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Feta cheese – for garnish

1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and sautee onions. Throw in peas once the onions turn pink. Sautee for 2-3 minutes and add mustard. Cook till peas turn soft.
2. Add a little milk and water to the mix and blitz in a blender to make slightly coarse paste.
3. Heat 1 tsp oil in a saucepan and throw in the grated garlic. Sautee it for half a minute.
4. Pour in the soup mix and add more milk and water to get the desired consistency. Let it cook for 8 minutes.
5. Add salt and black pepper.
6. Serve it in a bowl topped with feta cheese and olive oil.

Recipe & Cooking – Shirin Mehrotra
Styling and Photography – Amrita Rana


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