Pea and Parmesan Soup

April 4, 2014

I’m at a stage in my life when I’ve got babies on my brain.

It’s funny, when I was younger I assumed I would already have kids at this age. I had a vague (and in retrospect, hilarious) notion of when I would give birth to my children (with a vaginal, natural, barefoot labour and they’d be easily breastfed and it’d all just be magic) – my first when I was, oh, around 24 years old, another at 26 and then my last at 29…hmm.

I turn 29 in September.

I’m not freaked out by my upcoming birthday, in fact I’m freakin loving this age. My early twenties were studiously spent at University and trialling a few different jobs, figuring out who I was and what I wanted from life. I also lost my brother and boy did that shake things up. Perhaps entirely because of this loss, after my final year of Dietetics Ben and I traveled the world for a glorious nutella crepe-filled year, getting skinny on a backpackers budget and learning to live with each other 24/7. Yes, my twenties have been full and I’ve really learnt to rock this life of mine. I adore my job, working with clients to improve their diet, health and wellness, and I love our home. I love our creative, intentional and fortunate life. I miss my brother more and more each day (as I let these feelings (finally) in, I realise that while it becomes easier to say his name it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t get to see his face). But things are pretty great the way they are.

I’m surprised by my nonchalance about immediately starting a family. I thought I’d be all babies babies babies by now but I’m more cooking eating living and I think, I know, this nonchalance comes from the fact that I’m afraid that I won’t be able to merge the two. I don’t want things to change. And so I’m focussing most of my thoughts on how best to fill and roll cinnamon buns. I suppose I had always just assumed I would be able to get pregnant easily, but that is a priviledge I should not take for granted. So now I feel like Carrie in Sex And The City sitting with Charlotte in the park eating that black and white cookie having the same conversation. Well, not quite.

I wouldn’t mind that cookie, though…

At any rate, the distinct lack of babies in our home has been on my mind and, as I know this is indeed something Ben and I want to have, a family of little humans, I have been getting things in order with my body. I talk about this topic in my daily life with everyone and anyone so why not put it out here too? Ladies beware, it can take a long time to get your period back after being on the pill. No, really, a long time. I’ve been having some acupuncture to try and get my lady hormones flowing again (after initial blood tests and an ultrasound). All is fine, my body has just become lazy. Fabulous. And so I’m presently choking down morning and evening cups of Chinese herbs, whilst glaring at my half Chinese husband, somehow justifying a small portion of blame for this funky brew on his heritage. By golly, they’re awful.

This pea soup is far more pleasing.

I created this recipe one grey Sunday after a recent craving for plump peas. We ate our bowls alongside toasted dark rye sourdough with butter, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly and keenly cracked black pepper, feeling very thankful and happy to be cooking, eating, living. But also hoping that one day little ones will request mum’s pea soup.

Ok, I just cried.

Maybe my hormones are back…

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Pea and Parmesan Soup

Serves 2 (for now)

1/2 small brown onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp olive oil
15g unsalted butter
3 cups homemade chicken broth (or, 2 cups quality commercial stock & 1 cup water – choose a really nice one for best results, it’s a worthy splurge!)
3.5 cups frozen peas
1 parmesan rind
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 dessert spoons creme fraiche
1 handful fresh basil leaves
Dark Rye Sourdough toast and extra virgin olive oil, to serve

1. In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Gently sautee the onion for 5 minutes until soft, salting lightly immediately and turning down the heat if required to avoid overbrowning. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, until fragrant.
2. Add the stock, parmesan rind and 1/2 cup of the peas and turn the heat up to bring to a boil.
3. Turn the heat down and simmer for ~15 minutes to help develop the parmesan-pea flavour.
4. Add the remaining 3 cups of peas, turn the heat up and cook for ~5 minutes until the peas are nice and tender, but not overcooked. Be careful not to overcook them as you will end up with mushy, dull-coloured peas.
5. Remove from the heat and, using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup mixture until it reaches your desired consistency. I like the majority to be smooth, but with some lumps.
6. Serve into bowls and top with a dollop of creme fraiche, fresh basil and season to taste with freshly cracked black pepper. Dark rye toast is a great accompaniment.

Heidi xo

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  • Yasmeen | Wandering Spice April 4, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Well, my sweet, you KNOW you can talk about this with me, because it’s on my mind too, 24/7, whether I like it or not!

    I loved this post. I have to admit I’ve been really shocked and embarrassed by being so suddenly stricken with the baby bug. So, when I read your post, I let out an audible sigh of relief.

    A lot of people I know never want kids (and don’t even like them!) and I feel pressured that if we have them, our lives will be over (even though I know this is not the case). Meanwhile, people in my family LOVE kids(and are having them left right and centre) and friends like you do, too, which is great (remember our plan for us to move to the Peninsula so our kids can entertain each other??) and… then there’s the job thing (I’m on a contract in the arts right now, not exactly Big Bucks) and my family being 16,000km away.

    Right now we are on a plan of – lets get some of our finances in order, and my body in order (I have devastatingly low iron, as you know), and let me get an ongoing job later this year. Then, a few months after that, maybe we’ll just see what happens?

    I have dribbled on for about 10 pages and sorry Internet people for putting this all out there, but this post made a huge impact on me today, and I like your honest accountability, and thank you.

    • Hannah April 4, 2014 at 11:52 am

      I love you both. For your honesty, and your positivity, and the fact that you and Heidi (and your fellas) are exactly the people I desperately hope create more of yourselves for the world. When you move to the Peninsula, can I join? I fear I’ll only ever get to be the spinster old aunt making glitter crafts with, and feeding grated granny smith apples mixed with a spoon of coconut sugar to, your wee ones, but that’s okay. There are all sorts of love in this world, and I can help show them that.

      Oh gosh, I’m dribbling on now too.

      • Yasmeen | Wandering Spice April 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm


      • Heidi April 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm

        Oh Hannah bun! You will have your little ones too, this I know. But please, do be that sweet Aunty as well, ok? Love x

    • Heidi April 4, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      Thank YOU, for your words & honesty. It truly is comforting to know that others have similar feelings & struggles. It’s funny how it comes on, hey? You’ll get there, we both will. It will probably happen when we least expect it, too, so maybe less planning is good? Ahh I don’t know. We’ll talk it over tomorrow, can’t wait 😉 x

  • Hannah April 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Thank you, dearest. I, too, am waiting for my hormones to kick back in, and am wondering whether I should go talk to a doctor about options to kickstart/help. But maybe I just need to come home and drink those herbal wizard concoctions with you. Probably have a little cry too, after all, I’ve already cried five times this week. Detox crying; it’s the shiz.

    I’m always here, lady. I’m always here for you. Please remember that. Keep shining your light. Your little ones are going to glow in that light. xoxo

    • Heidi April 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      We need to create a far tastier tonic, don’t we. You’re the lady for this job. GO! Thanks for the love, as always, my dear xxx

  • Kate April 4, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Oh Heidi, I love this post. Your honesty and authenticity is beautiful. While I’m not quite at the stage where I am ready for having children (almost 22), I am in the process of trying to get my period back. I hear you, it takes a freaking long time to get your period back once you lose it! Coincidentally my doctor is trying to put me ON the pill to help bring it back (I lost mine due to an eating disorder 3 years ago), something I am stubbornly refusing to do. So yes I too am on the (AWFUL tasting) herb route – totally understand your aversion to them.

    I really do hope that in the somewhat near future we will see posts featuring little mouths being fed your beautiful food, including this divine looking soup! Kate x

    • Heidi April 4, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      Kate, thank you for your kind & thoughtful words!! I hear you, I don’t want to take the pill, too. Ugh. I might go down that path v soon though, I just don’t want this to take so much longer! You have time on your hands so I think you’re doing great, all the best with it. Yoga & meditation helps too 😉 xx

  • Lisa @ bakebikeblog April 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Boy do I know all too well about lazy girl systems!! I think this soup looks like a beautifully appetizing alternative to the herbs…good luck lovely x

    • Heidi April 4, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      & look at your gorgeous little one now! Thank you so much, lady x

  • laurasmess April 4, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I never actually thought about the time it might take to get my hormones back in order after being on the pill… argh. I’m worried about being stricken with acne also; it’s happened to a few friends of mine and admittedly I’m hesitant about plunging back into teenage skin problems. It’s weird, as I always assumed that I’d have children by this time in life also (I’m 30). It kicked in the other day that I’m older than my mother was when she had me. That’s… weird. And my husband doesn’t quite feel ready to think about having children, which troubles me a little bit. I try not to think about it. Anyway, in regards to having a full, cramped life, I completely get it. Making time for a little one (who will then be first priority) is a major life change but I do think it’s entirely worth it! I hope that the herbal tonics and everything else do their job! Sending you hugs. I know this pea soup recipe will be a keeper for generations to come xx

    • Heidi April 4, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      Aw thanks, lovely. Yes these are the years, hey? Decisions. Honestly, I have had a few friends come off the pill & for most of them it’s taken a long time. Some skin problems but some have used acupuncture to manage this. There are options! Worth considering, for sure…& yes I know, it feels so weird to compare ourselves to our parents & realise what they had at this age. We’re so fortunate to go after our dreams but this can mean we are playing catch up with domestic life. Much love to you & your future family 🙂 x

  • Sylvia April 5, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Yes, your hormones are kicking in. Just relax and don’t put yourself under too much pressure, it will all happen when you least expect it! Much love beautiful girl xoxo

  • Sylvia April 5, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Btw, never would have thought of using frozen peas to make a soup! Clever girl.

    • Heidi April 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks, Sylvia 🙂 xxxxx

  • Carly Findlay April 5, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I love this post. You are so honest and I love the way you tell stories through food.
    You are going to be a fantastic mum one day – I do hope it happens soon x

    • Heidi April 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Thank you, my dear, that means a lot x

  • Ros April 5, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    What a beautiful and honest post.

    I met my husband at 30 and got married at 32. Oh how I had wished to have an extra 5 years squeezed in there, just the two of us enjoying our wonderful life, before I turned 33. I too had wondered about how to adapt to the change of having a little person. We were fortunate to have him quickly and it truly is the best thing ever. Sure there is less time for cinnamon scrolls rising in the kitchen, but a quick batch of muffins hit the spot just as well. Number 2 has not come as quick and being 36 could cause some panic but instead I choose to breath and fully immerse myself in those everyday moments with my son in such a way that only a mum of one can. I also swear by acupuncture, if nothing else it helps me focus on the moment and stay grounded as stressing is never going to help fertility. Know that you have time and lots of options should you need them. I wish you all the best on fulfilling your dreams x

    • Heidi April 6, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      What a beautiful comment, Ros 🙂 Thank you so very much for your advice and support and thoughts and wishes. You are just so lovely and so right. Much love and well wishes and hope to you and your family x

  • Sarah April 5, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I was also afraid that I’d be unable to merge my pre and post baby life, but in the end becoming a mum doesn’t mean that everything else that was important to you suddenly stops. Sure, I’ve got less time, but the important stuff still floats to the surface. My bub isn’t quite one, and I’ve managed to do so much this past year. One thing no one told me before having a kid is how much fun it is – babies are hilarious and beautiful. I’m sure that when it comes to you, you’ll love it. This soup looks wonderful by the way, looking forward to trying it out when Brisbane finally cools down!

    • Heidi April 6, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Thank you Sarah, I so appreciate your thoughts!! x

  • Jess April 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Love your openness in this post. You already know I totally feel you on this topic, and the responses you have received on this also show just how common yet seemingly unrecognised by the medical profession this issue is…. My GP had no clue what to do, and made me feel as though I was an oddity, though it seems to me like we are less the exception and more the rule of the post-pill situation. I’m very much a believer that what is meant to be will be, so when the time is right, I’m sure you will have little ones just lining up for their ladles of soup. And if anyone can seamlessly merge babies into a great life of cooking, eating and living, it’s you two! Xoxoxo

    • Heidi April 6, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      Well that’s just beautiful, thank you, my lovely xx

  • Amanda April 8, 2014 at 12:58 am

    I’ll say it again… I just love this blog (your writing!) and all of your lovely commenters too–such insightful stuff.

    Had I known then what I know about the Pill now, I never would have stayed on it for so long! I’ve read that it can act much like an antibiotic on your body and knock so many of your other systems out of whack too (including your microbial/digestive one). It took me about a year to get back on track period-wise, and that was along with a continued focus on real/traditional foods (lots of fermented ones included), tracking my basal temp, and using an over-the-counter all-natural progesterone cream, all of which I would recommend. (TMI? probably. ha!) At nearly 32, I am now just starting to acknowledge my baby fever…and to be okay with the fact that everything does not need to be in “perfect” order (job, house, etc) before letting those thoughts in 🙂

    Happy thoughts/vibes to all!

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  • Laura May 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Such a beautiful post! I’m 27 and while I have enough years left for babies I’ve just now starting to get a bit clucky, something which I would neverrrrr have thought would hit me, even 6 months ago. Have you done any research on maca powder? It’s meant to be great for balancing hormones, libido and helping with fertility. Just mix a tablespoon in your smoothie or porridge.
    I’m currently in the middle of discussing coming off the pill with my boyfriend, not to get pregnant, but just to get my body back to normal without all these unknown chemicals going into my system everyday.