Spring Pea Soup with Bacon Bread Crumbs
Showcasing the garden-fresh flavors of spring, this pea soup gets a flavor boost from a sprinkling of bread crumbs and bits of bacon. For a fun garnish, cut 4 or 5 additional bacon slices in half lengthwise and fry until crisp, then place upright in each glass of soup just before serving.
- 4 oz. bacon
- 2 slices white sandwich bread, processed into fine crumbs
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 lb. shelled fresh or frozen English peas
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Heat a cast-iron fry pan over medium-high heat. Arrange the bacon in the pan and cook, turning once, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
Discard all but 1 Tbs. of the fat from the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
In a mini food processor, process the bacon into fine bits. Stir the bacon, mint, parsley, salt and pepper into the bread crumbs. Set aside.
In a 5 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the peas, broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the peas are tender, 12 to 20 minutes. Stir in the cream. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively working in batches, puree the soup in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into heatproof glasses or bowls and garnish with the bacon bread crumbs. Serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.