Leek and split pea soup with crispy pancetta

This wholesome and hearty soup is happily a meal in itself, taking inspiration from a Cypriot fennel and split pea soup in my new favourite cookbook Taverna by Georgina Hayden.

With a base of split peas, garden peas, celery. leeks, rice, zesty lemon, mustard and Moscatel sherry vinegar add a sharpness that lifts the robust flavour of the pulses. I had some leftover pancetta in the freezer that I decided to fry with butter, garlic and the greener leaves of the leeks which sauteed wonderfully. Dunked inside is a wonderfully runny poached egg and some homemade pickled red onions.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 6-8)

  • 1 onion, diced finely

  • olive oil

  • 2 large leeks, trim and finely slice (leave the green ends for later)

  • 2 sticks of celery, sliced

  • 300g of split peas

  • 1.6 litres of boiling water

  • x2 vegetable/chicken stock cubes

  • 250g of frozen petis pois

  • 120g of basmati rice, washed

  • 3 lemons

  • tbsp of wholegrain mustard (to taste)

  • 3 tbsp of sherry vinegar (to taste)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • knob of butter

  • 2x 77g smoked pancetta cubes

  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed

  • 6 eggs (to serve)


  1. Prepare the onions, celery and leeks. Place the yellow split peas in a sieve and wash them thoroughly under cold running water

  2. Place a large saucepan on a medium-low heat, drizzle with a few tbsp of olive oil (or butter if you prefer) and add the chopped veg, sauté/for 10 minutes until they start to soften.

  3. Stir in the yellow split peas and add the boiling water, then crumble in the stock cubes. Reduce to a simmer and then cover with a lid. Simmer for 30 minutes.

  4. After 20 minutes have passed of cooking the split peas, add the frozen peas making sure the water goes back to simmering (the temperature of the water will drop initially) the continue for a further 10 minutes.

  5. Stir in the rice and continue to cook for 30 minutes until everything is soft, creamy and thick.

  6. Blend soup with a hand-held stick blender, loosening with more water if needed.

  7. Season with a generous amount of salt, pepper, the juice of the 2 lemons (the last will be used for wedges when serving), the mustard and vinegar.

  8. Slice the remaining green leaves of the leeks. Place a small frying pan on a medium-high heat then add the nob of butter. Once melted add the remaining sliced leeks, the garlic and pancetta. Sauté until the leeks become soft and the pancetta is crispy with a little colour.

  9. Meanwhile pouch the eggs for 3 minutes.

  10. Serve the soup with a poached egg and garnish with the leeks and pancetta.

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