Weekend recipe: Lucy Cufflin’s festive soup

Warming, easy to prepare, and perfect for cold, winter evenings

Serves 4
* 25g butter
* 1 tbsp sunflower oil
* 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
* 125g frozen peas
* 1 baking potato, peeled and roughly chopped
* Chicken stock cube
* 1 litre water
* Salt and pepper
* 2 tbsp of double cream
* 50g smoked bacon cut into small pieces

For the croutons
* 4 slices French bread or 2 of sliced bread
* 2 tsp soft butter
* 2 tsp mustard

1 Put the butter and oil into a saucepan and add the onion and one tablespoon of water. Put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes or until the onion has gone soft but not brown. Add all ingredients except cream and bacon pieces. Season well with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a pan, without oil, until brown and crispy. Set aside to dry on kitchen paper. (This can be done ahead and kept for up to two days in the fridge). Place in a small, shallow roasting tin ready to re-heat.
3 When the vegetables are cooked, blend the soup, add cream and adjust seasoning. This can be done ahead of time.
4 To make the croutons, spread the bread with the butter and mustard, cut into cubes and put onto a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at Gas 5 (190C) for five minutes or until golden brown. Again, these can be made ahead and stored for up to four days in a bag in the fridge. Place on a baking sheet to re-heat at same temperature.
5 Ten minutes before serving, warm the soup in the saucepan; five minutes before serving, pop the bacon back into the oven with the croutons.

To serve: Pour the soup into warmed bowls and top with the croutons and bacon.

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About the chef
Lucy lives in Leicester and has been a professional chef for more than 20 years. Her new cookbook, Lucy’s Food, was published recently and is inspired by the 15 years she spent running a chalet business in the French Alps.

Lucy says: “I accumulated thousands of recipes that could be prepared ahead and finished easily but that looked and tasted wonderful – minimum effort, maximum effect.”

Lucy returned to the UK in 2000 and is now back in her home city of Leicester, where she’s just opened a shop on Francis Street in Stoneygate.

It’s also called Lucy’s Food and sells essential kitchen gadgets, store cupboard must-haves and Lucy’s own range of frozen readymeals.

The author:

Matt lives in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He is passionate about the independent food & drink sector and founded Great Food Club in 2010 after being inspired by local producers near his home town.