Parsley and asparagus soup with poached egg and pork scratchings

This recipe takes the classic poached eggs with asparagus, and adds big parsley flavours and a scattering of bacon.


For the soup
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 600ml/20fl oz vegetable stock
  • 300g/10½oz asparagus, stalks roughly chopped, tips set aside
  • 115g/4oz flatleaf parsley, leaves picked
  • 50g/2oz watercress
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
For the garnish
  • 115g/4oz pork rind, patted dry and cut into small pieces
  • 115g/4oz streaky bacon, cut into small lardons
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp parsley cress
  • 2 tbsp watercress cress

Preparation method

  1. For the soup, fry the butter, shallots and thyme in a medium saucepan for two minutes.

  2. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil.

  3. Add the asparagus stalks, reserving the tips, and cook for a minute.

  4. Add the parsley and watercress and simmer for two minutes, until the asparagus is just tender.

  5. Remove from the heat and blend with a hand blender, or allow to cool for 3-4 minutes and place into a food blender. Blend the soup until smooth.

  6. Return the soup to the hob over a medium heat and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  7. Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the asparagus tips and simmer for 2-3 minutes until just tender.

  8. Drain the asparagus tips and mix with a little olive oil, salt and black pepper.

  9. For the garnish, preheat a deep fat fryer to 160C/325F, or alternatively heat vegetable oil in a deep sided, heavy based pan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns golden-brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)

  10. Carefully place the dried pieces of pork rind into the fat fryer and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden-brown and puffed. Lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.

  11. Increase the temperature of the fat fryer to 190C/375F.

  12. Return the pork rind to the fat fryer and fry for another 2-3 minutes until crisp. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain onto kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt.

  13. In aa frying pan, fry the bacon until brown and crisp, then set aside onto kitchen paper to drain.

  14. Bring a small pan of water to a gentle simmer then add the vinegar.

  15. Stir the simmering water vigorously to create a vortex, then carefully crack two of the eggs into the water. Poach for 2-3 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking, then carefully remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.

  16. Repeat the poaching process with the remaining two eggs.

  17. Alternatively, if using later, drop the poached eggs straight into iced water and chill in the fridge until ready to use. Bring a pan of water to the boil, then add the poached eggs and cook for a minute just to heat through. Drain onto kitchen paper.

  18. To serve, lay the asparagus tips into the centre of the soup plate then nestle the poached egg in the centre of the pile. Ladle in the soup around the edge then scatter over the pork scratchings and bacon. Finish by scattering the parsley and watercress cress over the top.

James Martin recipes from Saturday Kitchen

Less than 30 mins preparation time

10 to 30 mins cooking time

Serves 6 – 8

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