Saturday, June 10, 2006

Sweet Pea Soup with Parmigiano Toast

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper
a couple dashes of hot sauce
2 10oz boxes frozen peas
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1/2 C heavy cream or half-and-half
8 slices baguette
1/2 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 C fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the crispy bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel. Add the onions, garlic, and thyme to the pot and season with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of hot sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Add the frozen peas and continue to cook until the peas are defrosted and heated through, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the onions and peas to a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and puree until smooth. Add the pureed peas back to the soup pot and stir in the remaining chicken stock and the cream, bring up to a simmer, and cook for about 8-10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, toast the baguette slices until golden brown in the broiler or toaster oven. In a bowl, mix the Parmigiano with the reserved crispy bacon and the parsley. Once the toast is nice and golden, sprinkle the bacon-Parmigiano mixture over the bread and return to the broiler or toaster oven to melt and lightly brown the cheese.

To finish the soup, add the lemon zest and juice, stir to combine, and transfer the soup to serving bowls. Float 2 Parmigiano toasts on top of each soup bowl and serve immediately.

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