Friday, April 9, 2010

Big time, pig time

I’ll admit that there are worse tragedies than what I’m about to tell you.

I have too much bacon. So much, in fact, that my entire life revolves around a simple, but pressing question: How can I use it all up before it’s too late?

I took the bag of beautiful, pink streaked stuff out of the freezer on Tuesday. It was heavy, like a sack of apples. Two or three pounds of bacon? Maybe more.

I’ve carved dent in it since I embarked on the pork bender. But I need to use it up before it becomes bachelor bacon---the stuff university students find at the back of their fridge, craggy, brown and dry. I swear, some people will shrug, and fry it up in last night's oiled pan, still on the stove from drunken, greasy fried eggs. Have I ever done this? Nooooo. Maybe.

Yesterday, to keep my bacon sanity, I cracked open a brick of a book, Nigel Slater’s Tender. I think the book weighs about the same as the bag of bacon did, when I thawed it out.

So I consulted dear Mister Slater, and he told me (in his chapter on broccoli) that I should make a nice soup, creamy green, rich and meaty, akin to a simple ham and pea soup. Bacon broccoli soup is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a lifesaver when you need something green to cut the massive amounts of cholesterol chugging through your arteries.

Broccoli and bacon soup
Adapted from a recipe in Nigel Slater's Tender, volume 1

Serves 6

A medium onion, roughly chopped
A good knob of butter
200 grams bacon, cut into 2 cm long pieces
3 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1 1/2 litres chicken stock (or ham, for a very pea-soupiness)
A bunch of broccoli, about 300 grams, cut into pieces with stems no thicker than your thumb
150 ml milk

Soften the onion in a large, heavy soup pot in the butter until just translucent, but not browned. Add the half the bacon, and the potatoes. Stir and let the flavours come together, with as little browning as possible. Add the stock, and bring up to a nice boil. Reduce, and simmer for fifteen minutes, or until your potatoes collapse against the slight pressure of a spoon.
Now, add your cut broccoli. The exact shape of your veggies doesn't matter; you'll be pureeing the soup anyway. Let everything gently simmer for ten minutes, until the broccoli is nice and soft, but still brilliant green.
In the meantime, fry up the remaining bacon. Set aside, on a paper towel.
Add the milk to the soup, and heat through back to the simmer. Turn the heat off, and blend to a rough puree (I like to discover tender pieces of vegetable in my pureed soups). Serve in bowls with the crisp bacon pieces on the surface.