Creamy spring soup with goat's cheese & prosciutto toasts
- Preparation and cooking time
- Serves 8
Asparagus, peas and watercress blend beautifully in this vibrant green soup with ciabatta toasts - serve as a starter or a light lunch
- 2 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 1 onion , chopped
- 1 fennel bulb , chopped
- 200g asparagus , woody ends and all, roughly chopped (save the pretty tips for another recipe, if you like)
- 2 garlic cloves , crushed
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1.2l vegetable stock
- 450g frozen peas
- 100g bag watercress , reserve some small leaves for the toasts
- small bunch parsley , roughly chopped
- small bunch mint , leaves picked and roughly chopped (or buy 1 large bunch and use half in the pesto, if making)
- 100ml double cream
For the toasts
- STEP 1
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and fennel and fry gently for 10 mins or until softened but not coloured. Add the asparagus, garlic and fennel seeds and stir everything around in the pan for another 1-2 mins. Pour in the vegetable stock, season, and cover with a lid. Leave on a gentle simmer (but for no longer than 5 mins) while you prepare the toasts.
- STEP 2
Heat the grill. Put the ciabatta slices on a baking tray and drizzle with a little oil. Pop the bread under the grill for 2-3 mins each side or until golden and crisp. Remove the toasts and rub the garlic clove over each piece of toast.
- STEP 3
Add the peas to the soup, bubble for 1 min to defrost the peas, then remove the pan from the heat and add most of the watercress, the herbs and the double cream. Use a hand blender to blitz it to a smooth, creamy consistency. Check the seasoning - you will need to be quite generous.
- STEP 4
Spread each piece of toast with a little goat's cheese, then top with a slice of ruffled prosciutto, a dollop of pesto and a few small sprigs of watercress. Finally, drizzle over a little olive oil. Serve the toasts alongside the soup, with a bowl of pesto on the side.
In a blender, whizz together a small bunch of mint leaves, a small bunch of basil, 100g flaked toasted almonds, 25g grated Parmesan, 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, the zest of 1/2 lemon and 1 small garlic clove. Season and add a splash of water if the pesto is too thick. Store in the fridge, covered with a layer of oil, for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.