Soup making has become a bit of a thing of mine over the last few months. This foodstuff has been a saving grace in my diet, and it allows me to cook my 'special' meals easily and cheaply.
This one has become a bit of a favourite, it's so refreshing and tasty. I even have it for breakfast and it has to be noted that it's a pretty decent hangover cure, too.
Now, pancetta may sound a bit posh but it's not really. This is the closest bacon like substance you can get in Italy, and it's such a common meat that we buy ours in Lidls... we stock up when it's on special offer and there's always a pack in the freezer. If at home in the UK I'd use streaky bacon instead, probably smoked.
On the stock front, I've taken to making my own from leftover veggie ends and the remains of the chicken carcass after a sunday roast. I stopped using most cheap stock cubes because they contained wheat and/or yeast, and they're both on my no-can-do list. When it comes to buying stock powder, the best is Marigold Bouillon which ticks all the right boxes and is pretty tasty too. It costs a bit more but it's worth it, and it comes in low salt and organic varieties too.
half a bulb of fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
2 x 100g packs of pancetta (frozen), chopped
3 large leeks (approx 700g), sliced
pinch of thyme; fresh is better but dried will do
salt to taste
Preparation time: about 10 - 15 minutes; cooking time: about 30 - 40 minutes.
Melt the butter in a 5litre pan and sauté the pancetta and garlic. If the pancetta is frozen give it a few minutes before adding the garlic - pancetta is often very thinly sliced and cooks up quickly. If you've got the cubed stuff then that will need extra time.
Once these are both soft add the leaks then thyme, then cook them all together until slightly golden.
Add the stock and the water and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 to 30 mins. Add salt to taste.
This makes approximately 3litres of soup, equivalent to 6 x 500ml servings. Or if you're me, it lasts a day.
And there you have it. It's very simple! Sometimes I change the order of the frying of the ingredients, but the key is not let the garlic burn. The leaks and pancetta taste better in my opinion of they are fried before adding the stock, but they'll cook just fine if they go straight into the stock.
You could easily sub the butter with olive oil should you prefer dairy free, but I have to say I do rather like the taste of things cooked in butter; fat content isn't a huge issue for me but it is for a lot of folks.
I'm no expert cook but I'm enjoying experimenting with these soups, and hope to get a few more up in the coming months. If you do use this recipe, and especially if you change it up a little, I'd love to hear how you get on in the comments :)