Starting with a bang, such a brilliant challenge. Putting those foods through their paces, testing hand to eye co-ordination as well as balance and sheer stamina. Orange really putting in the effort until the big balls came out. Cheese, what can we say? Life is not fair but there is no need to bring others down with you. Poor Peapod, we think he really had it in him to win. But it was Strawberry who stole it in the end. Unlike cheese, we are a little more gracious and have made room for a sore loser in our soup.



Peapod, orange & cheese soup with a pesto topping

Peapods are full of flavour and far too good to throw away. Out of season use either sugar snap, mange tout or frozen peas and cook them for just a few minutes. A handful of red lentils bulks the soup out, adding protein and giving a velvet smooth texture. Save pieces of cheese rind in a tub in the freezer and use for adding another layer of flavour to soups and stocks.

Vary the herbs in the pesto topping according to what you have, any leftovers will freeze well.

Peapod, orange & cheese soup with a pesto topping

Serves 2


For the soup

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 50g red lentils
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 dsp finely chopped hard cheese, or cheese rinds
  • 100g fresh peapods (or sugar snap, mange tout or frozen peas)
  • Zest & juice of one small orange

For the pesto

  • 3 tbs finely chopped leafy herbs (include any of basil, parsley, coriander)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 dsp finely grated hard cheese
  • ¼ tsp crushed dried chilli
  • Sea salt

Add the olive oil to a medium saucepan, fry the onion, garlic and cumin with a pinch of salt, over a medium heat until starting to turn golden brown. Add the lentils, stock, cheese rinds, fresh peapods* and simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils and pea pods are soft.

Whilst the soup is cooking prepare the pesto by mixing all the ingredients together.

Add the orange zest and juice, and blend the soup in a jug blender, or with a stick blender until smooth. Adjust the seasoning if needed and add a little more stock, or some milk to thin if needed.

Serve immediately topped with a spoon of the fresh pesto.

*if using sugar snap, mange tout or frozen peas cook the soup for 15 minutes before adding them.

Recipe, photography and styling by Helen Best-Shaw, Fuss Free Flavours ( for The Co-op Insurance.