Pea, Mint & Caramelised Bacon Soup

Easy to make Amuse Bouche 
I’ll be honest, if a meal is going to be something really special, it’s got to involve an amuse bouche. I remember fabulous meals I’ve had, where the thing I still cherish most at the end of it was the amuse bouche. A while back, for the Media Gun’s Birthday, we went to a fantastic restaurant in Norfolk, UK, called the Fox and Goose (don’t take my amateur word that it’s bloody good, check out Matthew Norman’s review here – oh and by the by, the Jeremy mentioned in the review is the Media Gun’s Dad). I’ll be honest I can’t remember now what I ordered at that Birthday meal. But I remember the amuse bouche – the most divine coffee cup portion of slow cooked rabbit stew which inspired me to cook rabbit stew myself a few weeks later. And before the pudding, another fun amuse bouche appeared; some kind of pineapple, mango and passion fruit smoothie in a chilled shot glass with a cut down straw and that magic 80’s childhood ingredient, FIZZ BANG! 

Maybe I’m just a greedy cow, but I think, if you love food, sit down to a meal, and there’s an amuse bouche to kick off the proceedings, it feels like you’ve won. So, last Saturday, I decided to prepare a romantic dinner for the Media Gun and me. And I decided it would not only involve some tantalising canapés but also an amuse bouche, just so he knew how much I cared. And because I’m a greedy cow. If you’re going to have an amuse bouche you need to make sure you’ve got the whole meal sussed. After all, you don’t want to put so much effort into the amuse bouche it’s to the detriment of the rest of the food. So I decided to make it easy on myself with a starter of smoked trout and an end of cheese and biscuits / chocolate dipped strawberries so that two courses pretty much took care of themselves. For my amuse bouche, I decided to prepare a pea, mint and caramelised bacon soup, which I served cold in chilled shot glasses. The caramelised bacon method I must credit to Helen Graves. As this soup was an improvised ‘chuck it together and let’s hope it works’ dish, I wasn’t sure if it would be a disaster but the end of the result was not only easy, but cheap, tasty and freezable. So in essence, you could prepare well in advance, freeze in small amounts and serve cold (or warm) in a shot glass or espresso cup as an amuse bouche without any real hard work impeding on the rest of the meal. 

A slightly larger portion would also make a great light starter, and a lovely finishing touch would be to decorate with edible flowers. Anyway, here's the method if you wanted to give it ago:  
Pea, Mint and Caramelised Bacon Soup 
Ingredients :
- 1 small bag of frozen peas 
- A small handful of fresh mint 
- 6 rashers of unsmoked lean bacon 
- 3 teaspoons of sugar 
- Salt 
- Pepper 
- 2 p ints of chicken stock 
- 1 tablespoon of single cream 
First put the bacon on some non-stick or lightly oiled foil on a baking tray and sprinkle with some sugar, then rub it into the bacon. Pop it in the oven, on a high heat, about 200 degrees, for about ten or fifteen minutes until it’s caramelised (keep your eyes on it as can be caramelised to burnt in the matter of a minute). When it’s ready take it out the oven and chop into small pieces, removing the fatty bits. In the meantime make two pints of chicken stock, pour into saucepan, add the frozen peas, the chopped bacon, torn mint, and add salt and pepper to taste and bring to the boil for a minute or two. Take off the boil and add to a blender and blitz until smooth. Add a touch of cream if you wish to give it a smoother texture. Let it come fully to room temperature and then chill. If serving as an amuse bouche, pour into shoot glasses which have been in the freezer.

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