Pea, Bacon & Mint Soup

Pea, Bacon & Mint Soup

Photography by Darren Bester 

You say Pea soup and I’m immediately transported back in time… I’m in my family kitchen, I’m a child, my Mom is standing over one of her trusty AMC pots (pots which are now in my kitchen some 30 years on – Talk about quality!), the radio is on and the aroma of pea soup is filling the air ! Yummy, my favourite of all her soup recipes. 

My Mom’s version, is actually Split Pea Soup, made with dry split peas & no-one will ever be able to make it quite like Mom, well not in my eyes anyway 🙂 So when the craving for Mom’s Pea soup hit the other day, I wasn’t about to attempt to recreate her winning recipe, because for me, half the comfort is knowing that my Mom made it for me, but with mom not around to see to this craving, I decided to experiment with a different kind of pea soup.  Feeling inspired by the recent sunny weather we had during our Cape Town winter, I felt like a lighter, fresher pea soup and so opted to use whole peas instead of split peas, I added some bacon because well, its bacon and any opportunity to add bacon to a recipe, I do 🙂 and then a sprinkle of mint to heighten the lightness and freshness of the soup.   

The result? Quick, easy and tasty!  Suitable for a deliciously healthy light lunch or dinner starter.  The beautiful green is so vibrant that it brings colour to any dining table, while conjuring up feelings of excitement and anticipation that Spring is finally, once again, knocking at our door …

Pea, Bacon and Mint Soup

Yield: 4 

500ml Fresh or Frozen Peas

250g Streaky Bacon, diced

1 Large Potato, chopped

1 Litre Chicken or Veggie Stock (I use the organic liquid stock from Woolies)

Handful of Mint, finely chopped

Method: 

Fry the bacon for 5 or so minutes until crisp (keep some aside for garnish), add the potato and stock and cook until the potato is soft, approximately 20 minutes. Add the peas and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat, season with salt & pepper and stir in the mint.  Use a food processor or hand blender to puree.  Pour into serving dishes and garnish with a drizzle of fresh cream and a sprinkle of crispy bacon.  

Cooks Note:  If you don’t have cream at hand, drizzle with a dash of olive oil instead.  The soup can thicken on refrigeration , if this happens just add a little stock or boiling water when reheating to achieve the preferred consistency. 

This recipe was featured on The Pretty Blog: Martha Who’s Pea, Bacon & Mint Soup

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Mushroom & Cauliflower Yin Yang Soup

Mushroom & Cauliflower Yin Yang Soup

Photography by Darren Bester

 

Anyone who ever had the Mushroom & Cauliflower soup at Sinn’s Restaurant in Wembley Square, Cape Town will know what I was trying to achieve here !   That soup was one of those meals … You know the ones, where you think about it for days, weeks or in this case, years afterwards.   So I had no choice, but to try and recreate it …  Is it as good as the original? In my eyes … sadly No, but its a close second and did bring me some comfort 🙂 

Yield: 6

For the Mushroom Soup:

1 Onion, chopped

4 Sprigs of Thyme, chopped finely

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed to a paste

400 grms Mixed mushroom selection, chopped 

50grms Dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes 

50 grms Butter

250ml Vegetable Stock

250ml Cream

Salt & Black Pepper for seasoning

Method: 

Sweat the onion in a little olive oil for 2 minutes before adding the garlic, thyme and butter.  Cook until the butter has melted and the garlic is no longer raw (approximately 2 – 3 minutes). Add the fresh mushrooms & dried mushrooms along with the water the mushrooms were soaking in and the vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Transfer to food processor and blend, while slowly adding the cream. Season with salt & pepper, taste and adjust seasoning until you are happy.

 

For the Cauliflower Soup 

Ingredients:

A few glugs of olive oil 

2 Onions, chopped

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed to a paste

125mls Dry White Wine 

1 Large head cauliflower, stalks removed & chopped

1 Litre Chicken Stock 

Salt & White Pepper for seasoning 

Method: 

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add the onions and sweat gently until the onions are translucent and soft.  Add the garlic and wine and cook until most of the wine has evaporated.  Stir in the cauliflower and chicken stock and raise heat to bring to the boil.  Once boiling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 or so minutes until the cauliflower is soft.  Transfer to food processor and blend until very smooth, should take a few minutes.  You might have to do the soup in batches if your processor is not big enough.  Transfer back to the pot and stir in salt & pepper, taste and adjust seasoning until you are happy ! 

Plating Up :

Now for the Yin and the Yang … Its actually easier than it looks … get two cups / mugs of equal size and fill one with Mushroom Soup and the other with Cauliflower Soup, pour them into a  soup bowl, from either side simultaneously, then simply place your hands on either side of the bowl and give the bowl a quick swirl and Voila! 

Garnish ideas:  I kept a few of the more exotic looking mushrooms aside and sautéed in some butter.  I cut a few cauliflower florets very thinly and did the same thing.  Also chopped up some chives really finely with some parsley and mixed with olive oil and then drizzled this over the soup. 

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