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Brussels Sprout Soup with Candied Bacon and Roasted Hazelnuts

by Rachel Allen from Soup Broth Bread

This soup is Christmas in a bowl with Brussels sprouts, toasted hazelnuts and candied bacon. It's the perfect way to use up leftovers, and it freezes well, too, so you can whip up a batch and stow it away for those chilly January evenings.

From the book

Rachel Allen

Introduction

A most Christmassy soup, with the candied bacon and roasted hazelnuts bringing a festive flavour and delicious crunch to the sprouts. To get ahead, make the soup in advance and freeze it. The candied bacon can be made hours in advance of serving, and the hazelnuts can even be roasted a couple of days ahead.

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Ingredients

For the soup:
50g butter
175g peeled and diced potatoes
175g peeled and diced onions
salt and freshly ground pepper
400g Brussels sprouts
1.1 litres chicken stock
250ml cream or milk, or a mixture
For the roasted hazelnuts:
50g hazelnuts
For the candied bacon:
25g soft light brown sugar, such as light Muscovado sugar
6 slices of streaky bacon (smoked if you wish)

Essential kit

You will need: a blender or hand blender.

Method

First, make the soup. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. When it foams, add the potatoes and onions, season with salt and pepper, and stir to mix. Cover with a butter wrapper or a piece of parchment paper, then turn the heat down to low, cover with the saucepan lid and cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent the vegetables sticking and burning.

While the potatoes and onions are cooking, prepare the sprouts. Trim the base, remove and discard the outer two or three leaves, and slice the sprouts thinly. Set aside.

When the potatoes and onions have been cooking for 10 minutes, add the chicken stock and boil for 2–3 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Add the sliced sprouts to the pan and cook over a high heat, with the lid off, until tender, approximately 2–3 minutes. Do not overcook, or the sprouts will lose their fresh colour and flavour. Add the cream or milk and blend until smooth. If you want the soup to be a bit thinner, add a little more stock. Taste for seasoning.

To prepare the hazelnuts and the bacon, preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.

Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven for 6–8 minutes, checking regularly, as they can burn quickly. To test them, take the tray out of the oven and carefully rub the skins off a few of them – the nuts should be golden underneath. When ready, tip them out of the tray and on to a clean tea towel, and rub to remove the skins. Discard the skins and chop the nuts coarsely. Set aside until you’re ready to use them.

To make the candied bacon, line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper. Place the brown sugar in a bowl and dip both sides of the streaky bacon in it so that they are completely coated. Use a little more sugar if you need to. Cook for 5–6 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bacon is caramelized on both sides. Remove from the oven and leave until cool and crisp. Once crisp, break the bacon, or snip with scissors, into pieces about 1cm in size.

Reheat the soup gently until steaming, then pour into bowls and scatter over the roasted hazelnuts and candied bacon. Serve immediately.

Notes:

For a vegetarian version, you can use vegetable stock instead of chicken, and omit the candied bacon.

If this soup is to be reheated, just bring it to steaming point and serve. Prolonged boiling spoils the colour and flavour of green soups and also this soup’s smooth, silky texture.

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From the book: Soup Broth Bread

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