Ramona's summertime chilled pea soup and grilled watermelon with halloumi salad

Guest food blogger Ramona is sharing her fab summertime recipes for a chilled pea soup with Parma ham topped croûtons and homemade pesto and a grilled watermelon and halloumi salad with mint and a honey-chilli dressing...

A light and summery menu this month of chilled pea soup, followed by a chilli-flecked salad of grilled watermelon and halloumi. If fresh peas are available, you could use those instead of frozen - save yourself a few peas in the pod (and possibly pea shoots if you have them) for decoration. Leave your guests to decorate the soup themselves if preferred - a swirl of crème fraîche at the last minute can also be a delicious addition.

The soup is garnished with homemade pesto and croûtons topped with Parma ham, but if you want a vegetarian menu, simply switch to vegetable stock in the soup, and replace the ham on the croûtons with a grated vegetarian hard cheese (look for a vegetarian-friendly cheese for the pesto).

The salad can be made on a hot barbecue or griddle - I used about 900g of watermelon and saved the rest for dessert. Baby watermelon works best, or you can use a larger watermelon to feed a crowd. The chilli, honey and lime dressing is absolutely addictive, cuts through the halloumi and gives the melon zing. Serve some flatbread to mop up any juices. Cooked watermelon certainly makes a neat talking point at your next barbecue!

Chilled pea soup with Parma ham topped croûtons and homemade pesto

Chilled pea soup with Parma ham topped croûtons and homemade pesto 

Blended peas cooked in stock and milk and cooled makes a refreshing chilled soup. Serve as is or top with ham croûtons and fresh basil pesto.

Serves 4

For the pea soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • knob butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 100ml full-fat milk 
  • 500g frozen peas
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper 

For the pesto

  • 60g pine nuts

  • 50g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • large bunch basil
  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt, to taste

For the croûtons

  • 4 small slices of sourdough bread
  • dash olive oil
  • 2 slices Parma ham

For the pea soup, heat the oil and butter in a pan and fry the onion over a low heat for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the chicken stock and milk and bring to heat, then tip in the peas and simmer until the peas are cooked. 

Blend using a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired. Leave as is or add a splash more stock for a thinner finish. Leave to cool and then transfer to the fridge to chill.

Heat a small frying pan for the pesto and dry fry the pine nuts until browned. Tip the pine nuts into a food processor and pulse a couple of times. Add the Parmesan and garlic and pulse again. Pick the basil leaves and add them to the food processor, along with a generous glug of olive oil. 

Pulse a couple of times and add more olive oil for a smoother finish. Add the lemon juice and salt, to taste, to finish. Set aside in a small bowl.

For the croûtons, preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Toss the sliced bread in a little olive and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for about 5 minutes. 

Slice each piece of ham in half lengthways and then top the toast with the Parma ham and return to the oven for another 5 minutes to crisp up further.

Serve the chilled soup in bowls topped with the croûtons and a dollop of pesto.

Grilled watermelon and halloumi salad with mint and a honey-chilli dressing

Grilled watermelon and halloumi salad with mint and a honey-chilli dressing 

Be sure to get the barbecue or griddle nice and hot before placing the watermelon on top - they need a quick sear before being drenched with the sweet chilli and lime dressing.

Serves 4


  • 2 x 250g blocks halloumi
  • ½ baby watermelon 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • generous pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 limes, zest from both, juice from 1 lime
  • small handful of fresh mint
  • flatbreads, to serve

Heat a barbecue or griddle to high. Cut the halloumi into long rectangular strips. Slice the melon into triangles with the rind on. Brush the sliced halloumi with olive oil and then cook on the BBQ or griddle for a few minutes on each side until charred. Remove and keep warm.

Place the melon on the barbecue or grill in one layer and cook for a few minutes on each side - take care not to cook them for too long or they will become soggy. You want to see some light grill marks. 

Meanwhile, warm the honey in a small pan with the chilli flakes. Remove from the heat and add the zest and lime juice.
Arrange the watermelon and halloumi on a plate and drizzle over the honey-chilli dressing. Scatter over the fresh mint and serve with flatbreads on the side.

About Ramona

Ramona Andrews is a highly experienced food writer and digital content producer. She worked for the BBC Food website for many years, during which time the site won a BAFTA nomination, World Food Media Award and Guild of Food Writers Award. After studying to be a chef, she went to work for the UKTV Food website (now Good Food Channel) and has also worked as a restaurant reviewer for Time Out and Square Meal. She now lives in Bristol and dedicates much of her time to working on food policy change campaigns, as well as keeping her hand in recipe testing and shooting for bigger food clients and publications in her kitchen studio. The Lazy Susan team are looking forward to giving the delicious recipes she’s creating for our blog a try.

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