Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Summer Minestrone Soup with Crisp Pancetta, Toasted Pine Nuts and Diced Hard Boiled Egg

This soup is delicious warm, and tasty when chilled, but to take full advantage of the summer flavors, serve it at room temperature.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 more for cooking pancetta
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced, about 1 tablespoon
1 medium white onion, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 medium celery ribs, sliced, about 1 cup
½ pound medium fresh asparagus spears, about 16, sliced into 1-inch pieces, about 2 cups
½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces, about 2 cups
½ pound fresh shelled peas, 2 cups (or substitute with frozen peas)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 quarts home made chicken broth, or low sodium chicken broth
1 cup organic heavy cream
½ pound pancetta, diced
½ cup pine nuts
2 hard boiled eggs

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, bay leaf, basil and thyme. Stir and cook until the garlic is soft and the onion is just translucent. Add the celery, asparagus, green beans and peas. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the veggies begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Ladle half of the soup into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. (You can also use a blender or and immersion blender to puree.) Pour the emulsified soup back into the remaining soup. Cook for 5 more minutes so that the flavors blend together. Remove the soup from the heat and bring to room temperature. (At this point, you can cover the pot and refrigerate the soup overnight. Bring the soup to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook until crispy, about 7 top 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta and drain on a paper towel.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the pine nuts onto a baking sheet. Roast the pine nuts in the oven until golden, about 5 minutes. Cool.

Stir the cream into the soup. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle the soup into bowls (or coffee mugs). Top each bowl with a bit of crispy pancetta, a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts and a few pieces of hard boiled egg.

Servings: 8 to 10
Preparation Time: 15 minutes to chop veggies
Cook Time: 30 minutes to simmer soup

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