Wednesday 16 February 2011

Pea and ham soup - simplicity personified


This must be one the cheapest, easiest, most wholesome,  delicious, slow food soups.
The smoked hock is courtesy of my friends at the Ginger Pig - no need to soak as the ham is what flavours the soup.

Simply chop into chunky pieces 3 leeks, 3 sticks of celery, and 3 yellow heritage carrots - these tend to be slightly harder than regular carrots and hold their own in the soup better. Sweat the veg for a few minutes in a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a big heavy based saucepan, add 3 small bay leaves. Rinse a 500g packet of split peas in a colander under running water, add to the veg stir well, pop in the hock and cover with cold water.

Bring to the boil and then turn heat down and leave to simmer for a couple of hours. The peas will have turned to a lovely mealy mush, leave to cool for 24 hours. This is where the magical alchemy of food does its trick. The hock as you can see has a lovely layer of fat as well as succulent meat, leaving it to cool and settle with the peas, turns a watery soup into a gelatinous mass.

When cool the meat will be falling off the bone and much easier to handle. Remove the hock from the pan, scrape off the clinging peas, and put it on a chopping board. The skin will just lift off and then it is just a matter of flaking the meat into chunks and returning it to the pan, heat through and serve with black pepper.

This makes enough soup for at least 10 servings, so dividing it up and freezing it is also ideal and prolongs the pleasure of eating it to more than one occasion.

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