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Bacon, chestnut, rosemary and potato soup

BY Alex Jackson

23rd Nov 2022 Recipes

Bacon, chestnut, rosemary and potato soup
Looking for a warm winter soup for the colder months? Alex Jackson shares this comforting recipe from his new book Provencal
Bacon, chestnuts, rosemary and potatoes are all the best of friends. Together this foursome creates a thick, warming soup that should be left chunky, unblitzed and bien rustique. If you have some to hand, a handful of dried ceps adds a musky depth of flavour. A slick of grassy, buttery, slightly bitter olive oil helps everything to meld together nicely. Grated Parmesan is optional, but very much encouraged.

Ingredients

Serves 4
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 60g smoked French bacon or pancetta, cut into large lardons
  • 2 medium white onions, finely diced 1⁄2 head celery, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled, green sprout removed and finely sliced lengthways
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1⁄2 tsp picked rosemary leaves (no more, don’t overdo it)
  • A few dried ceps, soaked in boiling water and roughly chopped (soaking water reserved)
  • 100g cooked (vacuum-packed) chestnuts, broken in half
  • 500g red potatoes, such as Roseval or Desiree, peeled and cut into 1.5cm chunks
  • 1 litre light homemade chicken stock, or just water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
Bacon, chestnut, rosemary and potato soup recipe

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan. Slowly fry the bacon lardons over a low heat until golden brown but not too crispy. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and fennel seeds. Add a good pinch of salt. Slowly fry this soffrito in the oil for at least 30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until sweet and very soft.
  2. Chop the rosemary finely, add to the pan and stir. Cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes, then add the ceps. Cook for a further few minutes, then add the chestnuts and potatoes. Add the stock or water plus the soaking water from the dried ceps. Don’t drown the soup in liquid. Initially, add just enough liquid to cover the vegetables by an inch or so and then top up the liquid as it reduces; it’s far better to add liquid in this way rather than have a soup that is far too liquid from the start.
  3. Bring the soup to the boil over a high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and everything tastes full, sweet and generally great. The chestnuts will have broken up a bit during the cooking, but if you feel that too many of them remain in big pieces, mash them against the side of the pan a bit with a wooden spoon. The soup should be quite thick, but not so thick that it’s just vegetables in a bowl. Season again with salt and black pepper to taste. Drizzle with your best olive oil and grate over the Parmesan before serving.
Recipe extracted from Provencal by Alex Jackson, publishing on 24th November from Pavilion Books, £26
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