Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This Week's Cauldron: Green Pea Soup with Pancetta and Mint

I cannot count the number of pots of Split Pea and Ham Soup I have made over the years. My family loves it and its a regular menu item at our house over the colder months. The aroma of the dried legumes simmering in rich chicken broth and chunky ham is a little piece of heaven on a cold winter's day. But what happens when the weather starts to warm up and we feel like eating lighter fare? A good pea soup doesn't have to always be of the 'stick-to-your-ribs' variety, thick in texture and brimming with the taste of smoky ham and herbaceous thyme...

My favourite recipe for a light pea soup melds the bright green colour and flavour of freshly frozen green peas with zesty Pancetta bacon and effervescent mint topped with a tangy dollop of yoghurt. I like to have this fresh tasting pea soup either as a main course alongside fresh baked rolls or even a home-made pizza. A fun way to serve it is as an appetizer shot, hot or cold with the addition of a baked Parmesan chip - YUM!!

Green Pea Soup with Pancetta And Mint
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups frozen green peas
1 liter (4 cups) chicken broth
1 small bunch fresh mint
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 Tbsp lime zest
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
50g Pancetta bacon, slivered and cooked until crispy
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese**
Plain yoghurt

1.Heat butter and olive oil in saucepan on medium heat; add onions and cook until  soft, but not brown, about 15 minutes.
2. Add chicken broth and frozen peas; bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered until peas are soft, but still bright in colour, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
3. Transfer soup to a blender; chop mint and add to soup; add lime and lime zest; puree until smooth. Garnish with Pancetta slivers, a dollop of yoghurt and Parmesan chips**

** Parmesan chips:
Grate cheese in small mounds onto parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake in 350F oven until lightly browned and crispy. Cool on cookie sheet, then use a garnish on top of soup bowls, or shots. Serves 6 (bowls) or 18 shots.

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