If you were planning to skip this page, haunted by the memory of Gran’s slimy brown sulphurous sprouts, boiled to oblivion, don’t. Sautéeing the Brussels rather than stewing them in the stock brings out the best of their flavour, which is helped along with smoky pancetta (make a special trip to a good deli for this you require something that comes wrapped lovingly in wax paper) and nutty red rice. And if you want to recreate a soupy version of your favourite Christmas side, just chuck in a few chopped roasted chestnuts and/or dried cranberries.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 5½ oz (160 g) best smoky pancetta, rind removed and diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 6 cups (1.4 litres) good chicken stock (preferably homemade)
- ½ cup (75 g) Camargue red rice
- 9 oz (250 g) Brussels sprouts, shredded very finely
- ¾ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tsp mushroom ketchup (such as Geo Watkins)
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over high heat and add the pancetta. Fry it for a few minutes until it is turning golden and crispy and the fat has rendered out. Carefully tip most of the fat into a large non-stick frying pan and set that aside.
- Lower the heat under the saucepan to low and add the onion and garlic to the pan. Sauté for about 8 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the chicken stock and rice to the pan and cover with a lid. Raise the heat to high to bring the liquid to the boil, then lower it to medium and leave to simmer for 25–30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and tender.
- Towards the end of the cooking time, heat the reserved oil in the frying pan set over high heat and add the shredded sprouts. Sauté for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sprouts are softened and beginning to brown.
- Once the rice is tender, add the sprouts to the soup along with the nutmeg, mushroom ketchup, if using, and some seasoning. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, then ladle into warmed bowls to serve.