Spring Pea Soup with Roasted Pancetta and Mint

The spring pea soup with mint that I’m sipping while she prepares the next dish delivers exactly what was promised—amazing flavors with thoughtful layers of texture. “Pea soup should never remind you of fog,” she says. The soup is sweet and delicate, with bits of perfectly crisped pancetta and cool, silky creme fraiche for garnish.
June 17, 2016

Ingredients

For the pancetta and mint topping
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped or torn day-old ciabatta, French, Portuguese, or sourdough bread
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 24-30 whole fresh mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
For the pea soup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 fat leeks, mostly white parts with a bit of green, well rinsed, trimmed, and minced, or one medium-size onion, peeled and minced
  • 1½ tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen green peas
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade or low-sodium, and/or organic store-bought
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • Sour cream, creme fraiche, or thick Greekstyle yogurt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Make the pancetta and mint topping: Place the bread, pancetta, and mint leaves in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold everything in a single layer. Drizzle the olive oil over the top, tossing to coat everything evenly. Bake the topping, stirring occasionally until browned and crisped (20-25 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.

Make the pea soup: Heat the butter or olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently until quite soft (8-10 minutes). Add the slivered mint and cook until it begins to wilt (about 30 seconds). Add the peas and chicken stock or broth and let come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, season with salt and pepper to taste, and let simmer until peas are tender (10-12 minutes). Stir in the cream and let simmer until heated through (about 5 minutes).

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot until very smooth. Taste and add more salt/pepper if needed (if you don’t have an immersion blender you can also puree the soup in batches in a blender).

Ladle the hot soup into soup bowls and scatter a generous handful of pancetta and mint topping over each. Spoon a generous dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche, or yogurt into the center of each serving, then drizzle a swirl of extra virgin olive oil on top. Serve hot.


Words by Tom Dott / Recipe from Sarah Leah Chase’s New England Open-House Cookbook: 300 Recipes Inspired by the Bounty of New England

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Ingredients

For the pancetta and mint topping
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped or torn day-old ciabatta, French, Portuguese, or sourdough bread
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 24-30 whole fresh mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
For the pea soup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 fat leeks, mostly white parts with a bit of green, well rinsed, trimmed, and minced, or one medium-size onion, peeled and minced
  • 1½ tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen green peas
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth, preferably homemade or low-sodium, and/or organic store-bought
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • Sour cream, creme fraiche, or thick Greekstyle yogurt
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