PEA SOUP WITH CRISPY PANCETTA, BREAD AND SOUR CREAM
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: From "The 150 Best American Recipes" by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens (Houghton Mifflin, $30). This recipe, contributed by Jamie Oliver, is easily prepared with frozen peas but is at its best when using freshly shelled English peas.
• 1/2 loaf stale white bread
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 large handful fresh mint, leaves stripped and torn, divided
• 12 thin slices pancetta or bacon
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and coarsely chopped
• 4 c. fresh or frozen peas
• 4 c. chicken broth
• 7 tbsp. heavy cream
• 4 tbsp. sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Trim crust off bread, discarding crusts, and pinch off bread into irregular-size pieces. Place bread pieces in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste and scatter about 1/2 of the mint leaves over bread. Sprinkle pancetta over mint and bake, stirring occasionally, until bread is crunchy and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reserve.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add green onions and remaining mint and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add peas and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, stir in cream and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Carefully transfer soup, a few cups at a time, into a blender (or use an immersion blender) and purée until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain soup through a fine-mesh strainer and ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with crouton mixture, garnish with sour cream and serve.