2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A couple of dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
3 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed out dry in a kitchen towel
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
8 slices baguette
1 cup Fontina cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the crispy bacon with a slotted spoon to drain on a paper towel.
Add the onions, garlic, and thyme to the pot and season with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of hot sauce.
Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Add the spinach and continue to cook until the spinach is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the onions and spinach to a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and puree until smooth. Add the pureed spinach back to the soup pot and stir in the remaining 3 1/2 cups of chicken stock and the cream, bring up to a simmer, and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, toast the baguette slices until golden brown in the broiler or toaster oven. In a bowl, mix the Fontina with the reserved crispy bacon and the parsley. Once the toast is nice and golden, sprinkle the bacon-Fontina mixture over the bread and return to the broiler or toaster oven to melt and lightly brown the cheese.
To finish the soup, add the lemon zest and juice, stir to combine, and transfer the soup to serving bowls. Float 2 Fontina toasts on top of each soup bowl and serve immediately.
This is the first variation on the Sweet Pea Soup. It is so much better than the original. I might use 1 box less spinach next time, because it was a little more like creamed spinach than soup. And it came out to be way more than 4 servings. The Fontina toast was delicious. I just layered the parsley and bacon and then cheese, because it came in slices. It turned out so good. I didn't float the toasts in the soup, because I didn't want soggy bread.