1 chicken carcass (left from roast chicken dinner!)
1 small carrot (or trimmings from soup preparation)
1 small onion (or trimmings from soup preparation)
1 bay leaf
1 small celery stick (or trimmings from soup preparation)
1 small bunch of thyme
for the pea soup:
1.50l chicken or vegetable stock
250g peeled and chopped onions
500g frozen peas
salt and pepper
100ml olive oil
for the herb croutons:
1 demi- baguette (or similar left over/ stale bread)
100ml olive oil
200g grated gruyere cheese or similar cheese
For the Chicken Stock:
After removing as much of the meat as possible from your chicken carcass, place it in a large pot along with all the remaining ingredients. As you will only be using the liquid from this, it is not important how you chop the vegetables. In fact, it is a lot more economical to use the trimmings from the vegetables you prepare for the soup itself.
Add the water and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. It is important not to boil the stock or simmer for too long as the stock will become cloudy as the chicken breaks down.
Once cooked strain the liquid into a jug or similar (remember it is the liquid you want to keep!!!). Once it has cooled remove any fat that may have gathered at the top.
For the Pea Soup:
In a large pot heat the olive oil. Add the sliced onions and turn over a light heat until most of the moisture has evaporated off, taking care not to colour the onions. Add the seasoning, chopped thyme and mint. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
Once boiling, add the frozen peas and bring back to the boil for about five minutes. It is important not to over cook the peas as you want to keep them a bright green colour. Remove from the heat immediately. Pour off a little of the liquid and set aside. This is the best way to control how thick or thin your soup is. You can remove liquid at this point and add it again later but you will be unable to make the soup thicker later if you don’t!
Pour the remaining vegetables and stock into a jug blender. It is best to use a jug blender as this will ensure a much smoother soup than a food processor; however, it is not essential. One difference with this soup to any other is that no starch has been added to thicken it, therefore we need to ensure all of the pulp from the pea remains in the soup.
So once it has been pureed passing it through a conical strainer several times ensures all the pulp gets washed through while the skins remain. Now you can correct the seasoning and consistency by adding the liquid you saved if it is too thick. Before serving, finish with some freshly chopped mint.
For the Gruyere Croutons:
This is a great way to use up your French baguette bits or Vienna rolls that go stale so quickly. Slice the bread into nice round disc and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and place in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the bread becomes crisp and golden. Once removed from the oven, rub each crouton with the garlic clove, almost like using the crouton as a greater! Top each crouton with the grated cheese and place on top of the soup, allowing the heat of the soup to melt the cheese.
This is entirely up to you. Some lightly whipped cream with fresh herbs is always great with soup but not essential if your watching the calorie count. Serving the croutons on the side ensures they remain crisp write up to the last minute. But what ever you do make sure the soup is served boiling hot in a heated bowl.