Split peas are a popular winter vegetable in France. They are either made into soup or served as a purée, generally with pork. This is a particularly refined split pea soup that includes a little rice for added texture, sorrel for a touch of acidity, and lettuce which adds a light, fresh taste.
400 g (14 oz) dried split peas
60 g (2 oz) butter
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
85 g (3 oz) bacon, rinded and chopped
2 medium leeks (white Part only), finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 litre (1.75 pints) Chicken Stock
1 Bouquet Garni
50 g (1.75 oz) short grain rice
85 ml (3 fl oz) double cream
Freshly ground pepper
85 g (3 oz) sorrel, cut into a chiffonade
85 g (3 oz) lettuce, cut into a chiffonade
Small bunch chervil or parsley to garnish
Soak the split peas overnight in cold water to cover. Drain.
Melt 30 g (1 oz) of the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the carrot, onion, bacon, leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Add the drained peas and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, add the bouquet garni and simmer for 40 minutes, until soft.
Meanwhile, cook the rice in 225 ml (8 fl oz) boiling salted water for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.
Purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Return to the saucepan and add the cream. Bring to the boil and then add the rice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Heat the remaining 30 g (1 oz) of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the sorrel and lettuce and cook until the moisture has evaporated. Pour the hot soup into a tureen and add the cooked sorrel and lettuce. Serve sprinkled with chervil leaves.