Pea Soup with Bacon Croutons

This is one of the most useful recipes ever. It is such a simple soup and one that you can vary and jazz up with minimal trouble. And so quick. I often add a little mint sauce or a handful of fresh mint but it’s not really necessary. Other soft herbs like basil, chervil and chives make it quite different and it’s very good with the South East Asian combination of garlic, chilli and coriander. The bacon garnish is very attractive to look at and enhances the soup.

Serves 4
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 20 min

75g diced streaky bacon/lardons
½ tbsp vegetable oil
1 trimmed leek or 2 bunches of spring onions
50g butter
500g frozen peas
1 chicken stock cube
crème fraiche
few sprigs flat leaf parsley

Place the bacon in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pan with the oil and cook, gently at first, increasing the heat as the fat runs, until very crisp. Scoop from the pan onto a fold of kitchen paper to drain. Meanwhile, quarter the leek lengthways, stopping just short of the root. Wash under cold water, hold the leek together and slice across to make tiny scraps. If using spring onions, trim and finely slice. Add the butter to the pan and stir in the leeks or spring onions. Season with salt and pepper, cover the pan and cook over a medium-low heat for 5 or 6 minutes until soft. Stir in the peas, cover the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes. Fill the kettle and boil. Measure off 1 litre water. Add the stock cube and stir to dissolve. Pour the stock into the peas, increase the heat and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes or until the peas are tender. Liquidize, continuing for a couple of minutes to break down the fibrous pea skins and pour into a clean pan. Reheat and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, garnish of bacon and chopped parsley leaves.